Florence Chan Fong
December 6, 1936 – June 18, 2023
Florence Fong passed away peacefully at home in Clarksburg, California, on Sunday, June 18, 2023, with family by her side. In 1996, she successfully battled breast cancer. In 2015, she was diagnosed unexpectedly with Stage IV non-smokers lung cancer (NSCLC). Yet, over the next 8 years, she experienced positive outcomes from a clinical trial, several rounds of chemotherapy, and a recently authorized oral chemotherapy. Ultimately, the cancer metastasized and led to her recent decline. She faced all her health challenges the same way she lived her life: with unwavering positivity, strength, elegance, and grace.
Florence was born in Sacramento, California, to Carl Chan and Rose Luke Chan. Her parents were immigrants from the village of Cuiheng in the county of Zhongsan and province of Guangdong, China. They came to America and settled in Sacramento with hopes and dreams for a better life and to start a family. She along with many of her siblings worked in the family grocery store, Royal Market, growing up into adulthood. Florence attended Lincoln Elementary and Junior High School and graduated from Sacramento High School in 1955. She was a stellar student throughout her education, earning A’s in both public as well as Chinese school, which she attended every day after traditional school.
It was in Chinese school where, as a young girl, she met Roger Fong. He sat behind her and confessed that he used to dip her pig tails into the ink well on his desk. She overlooked his mischievous behavior, and on July 21, 1955, Florence and Roger had their first official date at a hot dog roast at Del Paso Park. Florence earned her Associate of Arts degree from Sacramento City College and later worked as a secretary at the California Division of Real Estate, the Legislative Counsel’s Office, and several medical offices.
Florence married Roger, the love of her life, on August 6, 1961, in Sacramento. Their first child, Ryan, was born at home and delivered by Roger in 1965. The at-home birth was unplanned but was without any complications, and always made for a great story. After that experience, they made sure to leave the house earlier, and their daughters Alisa and Rachelle were both born at the hospital in 1968 and 1970.
In 1977 they moved into a townhouse in the apartment complex that Roger helped build and oversee, and where they raised their family. Florence was the property manager and maintained that role until recently. In 2010 she and Roger moved out to the country, where they designed and built their current home in Clarksburg, CA, which they refer to as Finca Pura Vida. Florence loved the pure and simple life that the property and its surroundings offered, and she and Roger always dreamed of having together.
After raising their family, Florence and Roger traveled the world together, usually choosing to travel independently rather than with a group. They went on multiple trips to China, Europe, Mexico, South America, the South Pacific, the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Costa Rica, and extensively throughout the United States. Florence loved seeing and exploring new places, trying different foods, and most of all waking up late in the mornings.
Florence loved to dance since she was a girl. She took tap and ballet growing up. She and Roger belonged to a ballroom dance club for many years, as well. They danced weekly and attended every New Year’s Eve dance. Even in her 60s and 70s Florence continued to take tap dance classes and performed with the River City Tappers.
In the mid 1970’s Florence began running, initially to compete with the family at an event in Palo Alto, called the Chinese Little Olympics. With her winning efforts she and the family earned the top Family Award multiple years. Florence and the family participated in many races over the years, including the inaugural Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K run in Sacramento following her breast cancer diagnosis in 1996. For 20 years, she participated in every annual race as a proud survivor, regularly joined by family members, until her lung cancer diagnosis in 2016. She raised thousands of dollars every year and was a top fundraiser for the organization.
In 1999 Florence joined Roger to raise money for kids with leukemia with Team in Training. She trained for and completed her first marathon, the Rock n Roll Marathon in San Diego, at the amazing age of 62. If that accomplishment wasn’t enough, she still had more energy and went dancing that evening at the post-race event party. She won many age division awards for her races over the years.
Beyond her love for dance, and longevity for running, she is perhaps most widely known for her talent for baking. Many of her friends, family, and acquaintances were the recipients of her delicious cookies, cakes, and pies. She was best known for her cookies, especially her signature chocolate chip and also her famous sponge cake, which was a recipe from her grandmother. She baked and shared thousands of cookies over the years. In addition to being delicious, each cookie was meticulously crafted, uniformly shaped, and beautifully packaged and presented. All of her baked treats were eagerly anticipated and always enjoyed.
Florence was a loving, devoted and adoring wife, mother, and grandmother. A favorite aunt to many, sister, cousin and a loyal, thoughtful friend. She lived a wonderful, full life always surrounded by family. She will be missed deeply but remembered fondly, with a lifetime of memories to sustain those she leaves behind.
Florence is survived by her loving husband of 61 years, Roger; her children, Ryan (Carrie), Alisa (Ed Gee) and Rachelle; and her 7 grandchildren: Dylan, Aidan, Tyler, Ainsley, Blaithin, Colby and Myles. She is survived by her sisters Betty Fong and Sharon Chan, and brother Steve (Janis) Chan. She was predeceased by her sister Carol Jow (George), and her brothers Carson and Dennis Chan.
A private service was held on June 30, 2023, at East Lawn Chapel located at 4300 Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento, followed by a Celebration of Life lunch at Yue Huang Restaurant in Sacramento.
Donations in Florence’s memory may be made to:
ACC Senior Services - Wellness Park Project
7334 Park City Drive
Sacramento, CA 95831