Mr. James H. Wong
  • In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the San Francisco Chinatown YMCA in memory of James H. Wong
  • San Francisco Chinatown YMCA
    855 Sacramento Street
    San Francisco, CA 94108

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Thank you for your support and friendship throughout the years. Please enhance this tribute to James by adding your memories and photos.

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Memories & Candles

James at the Chinatown YMCA.  Do not think of him as gone away his journey's just begun... “Reverend Harry Chuck spoke at James' Celebration of Life gathering on 11/9/2011.AS I tried to scan the room to see and to look for familiar faces, I...Read More »
1 of 3 | Posted by: Clarine - San Francisco, CA

“Please view Mel's video tribute of James and remember the warmth of his smiles. Just click on the movie reel icon and 'View Video Tribute" located...Read More »
2 of 3 | Posted by: Clarine - CA

“We at the Neptune Society wish you and your family peace and comfort during this time of loss. --Susanna ”
3 of 3 | Posted by: Susanna Hnilo - San Francisco, CA

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EULOGY for James H. Wong

James was born in San Francisco on January 27th, 1933, the son of Frank "Faun" and Fung Sin Wong. He was a loving and caring father to Frank Wong.

James is preceded by his dear parents Frank and Fung Sin; brothers Donald, Herbert, and Johnny; sister-in-laws Marian Wong, and Jean Wong of San Francisco; and nephew Michael Wong.

He is survived by his loving son Frank, Frank's mother Nicki, and Frank's brother Michael; his adored brother George, and sister-in-law Jean; nieces and nephews Larry, David, and Jeffrey Wong, Doreen Hom, Clarine, Garrick, Rodrick, and Jason Wong; nephew-in-laws David Hom, Dean, Lonnie, and Walter Graham; niece-in-laws Carolyn, Glenda, Margaret, and Pamela Wong, Brenda Force; grand-nephews Richard, Alex, Timmy, Michael, Jeffrey, Brandon, Jonathan and three Ryan Wongs, Dayton, Damon, Darrick and Darren Hom, Hoku Jeffrey; grand-nieces Sharyl, Lori, Michelle, Samara, Katrina and Angela Wong, Moanalani Jeffrey, Dr. Kati Lai; Kati's husband Dr. Richard Lai; and great-grand-nephews Brandon and Kyle Lai.

James' Story
I was fortunate to hear James' stories when he reminisced of the good old days. I'd like to share with you some of the stories that James told of himself growing up, which pay tribute to his strength of character, and made him into the man that we all grew to love.

I've wondered what gave him that smile that always beamed with childlike innocence, and that laugh which made light of hard situations. From his stories, I realized that his personality was one born out of struggle.

James was born in the days of the Great Depression. His father was a cook, who worked around the clock 7 days a week, never had a day off, and lived where he worked. His mother, a teacher turned housewife, raised 5 boys in the 2 rooms they rented on Grant Street. Living conditions were hard and his mother was often absent from the home. The boys were often left to fend for themselves. James was the youngest of the 5 boys. The oldest, Herbert, would think of ways to make money and put food in their stomachs. From the age of 6 thru 12, James joined his brothers in their shoe-shining venture - they roamed the streets of San Francisco shining shoes... using a makeshift wooden box with a belt nailed to it, to hold their supplies. Their work took them to businesses and bars down in the Financial district, and downtown towards Mission. No one wanted the boys searching for work on their premises. Because people didn't mind seeing the littlest boy as much as the older brothers, James was left to work the crowds. James soon became the business' leading man. His wit and humor started to develop from these encounters. He would wander into businesses to ask if anyone wanted a shoe shine. When business people would try to shoo him off, he'd ask "Would you like to buy a brush off. No? Then how about a song?"... and then without waiting for a reply, the little guy would break out in song.

That innocent little boy with that round, smiling face learned to bring a smile to any stranger's face at an early age. After James worked the crowd, he gave his brothers the signal to come in with their shoe-shine box and get to work. He also learned that having money was no sure thing in life, as money in hand was quickly gone. The hungry brothers would buy a meal. The eldest brother Herbert did not shine shoes, but wanted a share of the money. His Mom wanted coins for a game of majong. His middle brothers would lay out their junky toys and set up shop asking James to buy something - James always replied - "NO, I don't want to buy any"... but to no avail, he ended up with some.

As a young boy, he learned to cherish the exchange of smiles, good times, and laughter. He never lost that childhood innocence, and his sincere love for people.

If it were not for the influence of James' father, we may not have gotten to know James as the Pharmacist. James' first love was Art - he was always drawing. He took Art classes to become an artist. His father encouraged him to find a job that would support his future family. So James took up Horticulture. Again his father stepped in and thought James should set higher goals for himself maybe becoming a doctor... or a pharmacist.

James' Father, Frank, supported his son's school work and was able to see his hard work as a cook pay off when his son graduated from Pharmacy School... When James bought Sabini Pharmacy on Union Street on the corner of Laguna, his proud father joined him at the pharmacy, and the smell of his Dad's home cooking often filled the store. James recalled his Dad's favorite task at the pharmacy - counting the cash at the end of the day - his eyes would get so big when handling the bills. Frank lived a few more years to see his son's pharmacy business thrive... just the beginning of James' long 50+ year career as a pharmacist -working over 30 years at San Francisco State College and throughout the city.

In memory of his deep love for his father, James named his son Frank - 2 people he held so close to his heart.

Throughout his life, James has maintained close ties with the SF Chinatown YMCA. He always spoke so fondly of his YMCA friendships, the Y activities, and its guiding force on him and his brothers in helping them focus on the right path in life during a time when they had so very little - where there were so many oppurtunities to take a less desirable alternative.

It is no wonder that you all - his family, extended families and friends meant so very much to him. James will always be remembered by all whose lives he had touched, and he will be so deeply missed by all.