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Our loving mother, Alice Emjeong Lee Wong, passed away of natural causes peacefully in her sleep on January 16, 2023. She was preceded in death by her husband and love of her life, Chuck, and each of her five siblings: Alfred, Howard, Ellen, Beatrice, and Henry. She was the proud matriarch of a large family, and is survived by her three sons - Stephen, Spencer (Deborah), and Sean (Nancy); her grandchildren – Kristen Tinetti (Steve), Jennifer Salazar (Jason), Riley Wong, Alice Wong, and Emily Wong; her great grandchildren – Kelsey Hansen, Angel Tinetti, Sofia Salazar, Mary Salazar, and Arturo Salazar; and her great, great grandson Demariae Booth. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews who she loved dearly.
Alice was born in Honolulu, Hawai’i, the fourth of Lai Hung and Duck Hu Lee’s six children. She and her siblings grew up in an idyllic paradise. Alice came from a very large extended ohana family with over 70 first cousins. She would fondly tell stories of visiting a different cousin’s house nearly every weekend growing up in Honolulu. She was especially fond of her auntie, Mrs. Tom, who would often cook huge banquets for over 100 relatives for special occasions. In a family reunion in the late 80s, Alice introduced us to many of these cousins, all who were so comfortable with each other despite not having seen each other, some for 40 years. Alice loved her life growing up in Honolulu, especially her teen years where she had many cousins and friends that she would hang out with on the beach.
After her graduation from Farrington High School, Alice worked briefly at the Honolulu Police Department and at Hickam Air Field. During this time, she attended many of her friends and family’s weddings, often being one of the bridesmaids or maid of honor. She often wondered when she would find the right guy, but after the outbreak of World War II, she found her soul mate. Her future husband, Chuck, joined the Navy in California shortly after Pearl Harbor and ended up stationed in Hawai’i where they had a chance meeting through the USO in 1944. Love blossomed, beginning a love story that lasted for over 60 years, until Chuck passed away in 2005. Chuck proposed two weeks after meeting Alice, and they married after the end of the war in August 1946 and eventually settled in the Land Park area in Sacramento after living in Honolulu and Auburn for a short time. Their first born, Stephen was born in 1947, Spencer was born in 1953, and Sean made a surprise arrival in 1965. Alice was devoted to her children, always making sure they were well fed and well dressed. She put her boys first, with no sacrifice too large to make.
Alice was equally devoted to Chuck. Throughout his working life as a grocery store manager and business proprietor, she stood by his side. Chuck was also active in the community, serving as commander and quartermaster of the VFW Chung Mei Post 8358, and as tournament director for the Sacramento Chinese Golf Club and Sacramento Senior Golf Club. Alice’s support of him ensured his success in all of his endeavors.
While only 5’1”, Alice was very proud of her 3 tall boys, all 6 feet or taller. But to her three sons, she was a giant. She was indelibly strong of mind, body and spirt. She helped raise each of her grandkids and she raised them all with love, care and sacrifice. Each of her sons are eternally grateful for her love and care of our kids.
Alice was also fondly known by all as an excellent cook. She was adept at both Chinese and American comfort food. She was equally skilled at making beef stew, spaghetti, ribs, meatloaf, and fried chicken as she was at hom yee yuk, wut gai, jook, sui yan with clams, chow mein, and beef tomato. Her soups were also to die for, especially her chowder, napa cabbage soup, vegetable beef soup, chicken vegetable soup, fu jook soup, dak ga soup, ox tail soup and won ton soup. Her Hawaiian roots also showed as we all loved to eat spam and eggs for breakfast, spam sandwiches, spam fried rice for lunch and spam musabi for snacks. Her many nieces and nephews can also attest to her cooking abilities as she cooked a lot of tasty meals for extended family get togethers.
Alice’s family takes comfort in knowing that she lived a full life surrounded by loving family and friends. We take heart that she is now in the loving arms of her beloved Chuck, who she has missed so much.
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