Ruby Chow- Chow Mah Serng Gum died of congestive heart failure the morning of June 4th surrounded by her husband, five children, two brothers, one sister, six grandsons, three granddaughters and three great grandsons.
At her last public appearance last September, at a fund raiser for the new Wing Luke Asian Museum building, her "favorite (and only daughter) daughter" Cheryl read the following for her:
Thank you. Special thanks to my friend Faith Ireland for reasons that take too long to tell, like all long time friendships. But I want say I’m happy be your friend, in public, on the street, anyplace, any time.
Standing up here, among the most prominent citizens of Seattle in the city where the Asians have shone the brightest stars in American politics, entertainment, industry and... restaurants... I only wish my mother were here to see the company I’m in.
Chinese restaurants were --- to be honest --- considered dumps when my mother raised ten children all by herself, in the back room of a Chinatown store.
And sliding down the banister of our building, head first, I realized I wasn’t the brightest of mother’s ten children. But I was the fastest. I crashed into the marble floor with my eyes open, and I saw stars.
I saw Seattle’s Keye Luke become a Hollywood pioneer. Wing Luke become the first Chinese to be elected to office, in America, in 1957. I saw Warren Chan fight newspaper prejudice with dignity and become a distinguished judge of the King County Superior Court. I saw Chinese restaurants rise from slophouses to places of Seattle’s haute cuisine.
I saw Asians rise from copy boys to reporters and anchors on Seattle and the nation’s media. I saw the creation of the Chinese Girl’s drill team, with their own 125 foot long dragon appear in celebrations and parades around the world bearing Seattle’s name. I saw the town erect the beautiful Wing Luke Asian Museum to tell our history. (Your name won’t be forgotten, Mom.) And I saw Seattle’s political stars rise to the highest office in Washington State, with the election of Gary Locke, to Governor. And the end isn’t in sight.
My mother revived me, and I told I had seen stars. Real stars.
And she said something very wise. “You would have seen as many stars if you had come down the banister the other end first.”
I have been up and down many banisters, both ends first, and, you were right Mom. I wish you could see me, now, married to Ping who gave up opera stardom to raise your five grandchildren and cook in my restaurant. The least I could do was take his name…Chow…and take it to the highest banister. We’ll take this one together, Ping.
Thank you, for this evening.
Thank you all for 80 years of Chinatown. Thank you