Sacramento, California – Robert Shee-Hong Yee of Sacramento CA, passed away peacefully of natural causes at home on Tuesday November 21, 2023. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle. Robert was born in 1932 and grew up in a village in Guangdong with his mother Chek Wah Fong Yee and father Wing Dye Yee and siblings—James Yee, Gay (Wong), Kane Yee, and Sinclair Yee. Robert came to San Francisco and Seattle with his parents and siblings in the 1950’s and attended high school in San Francisco. He then joined the US Army where he was an Chinese-English translator for the US army. Relatively rare for his time, he had learned English while he was s schoolkid in China. He was stationed in the US and Japan and worked for the precursor of the now Defense Intelligence Agency. He married Sim Kuen Wong in 1957 in Hong Kong and they eventually had a family of three children (Amy S. Yee, Gene K. Yee, and Kenny W. Yee). While they were not yet US citizens, Sim Yee was sent specifically by the Army to the then-Presidio in San Francisco so that Amy would be a US citizen by birth. With family loan of $3000 from Herbert Fong, Robert and Sim came to Rio Linda and opened Bill’s Market. Bill’s market was a local grocery store that served the local Rio Linda community. They were known for their kindness to the local community. Gene and Kenny were born in 1960 and 1969. Robert and Sim built the business in Rio Linda with thought and hard work. Their hard work and sacrifice further built a real estate portfolio in Sacramento, while also educating their children in the public schools, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, etc. Throughout his life, Robert had the kindest heart. He was a caring son and brother, as his parents lived with his family in Rio Linda and took care of them almost to the end of their lives. Our lives were filled with happiness and many family gatherings with Uncles, Aunts and cousins, despite quite humble beginnings. Robert and Sim built a great life for their family with thought, love and hard work.
Sim Yee died on October 22,1998 in a tragic robbery of their Rio Linda grocery store. Robert immediately retired in 1998 and then moved to Riverlake in Sacramento. After retirement, Robert did calligraphy for the Royal Louis Florist in Sacramento for numerous weddings and funerals for the Chinese community. He was proud of his beautiful writing, which also gave him much pleasure. He married his second wife Lisa Liu in 1999, but they have been separated since 2012. He continued to live alone in Riverlake, while his daughter Dr. Amy Yee coordinated all his medical care and managed all the RE businesses with the expert help of Brittain Commercial. Over the years with an amazing caregiver (Simeli Vuluma), his residence was converted first to an “assisted living for one” and then finally a “hospital room for one”—all so he could safely age in place. In the past 4-5 years, Robert was afflicted with lung cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and then finally myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia with severe thrombocytopenia. He received state of the art care at UCDMC for the cancers. Robert showed an indomitable and amazing will to live, despite three simultaneous terminal illnesses. He repeatedly wanted more treatment and declined hospice until his body finally succumbed at age 91. He died peacefully in his home on Nov. 21, 2023.
Robert is survived by his three children: Dr. Amy Yee (Dr. K. Eric Paulson), Dr. Gene Yee (Jennifer Yee), Kenneth Yee and by four grandsons Christopher Yee-Paulson (Icy Li), Benjamin Yee-Paulson, Joshua Yee, Kyle Yee. Robert is also survived by his sister Gay Wong (late Charles Wong); his brothers James Yee (late Jenny Yee), Kane Yee (Maxine Yee), Sinclair Yee (Genevieve Yee)- as well as numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. His first wife Sim Yee predeceased Robert Yee in 1998. Robert is survived by his second wife Lisa Yee, from which he was separated for 11 years at the time of death.
Robert will be honored with the following funeral service and remembrance on Friday, December 1, 2023, at the chapel in the East Lawn Cemetery (4300 Folsom Blvd. Sacramento, CA). Visitation will occur from 10-1. The funeral service will be held from 1:00 to 2:30 pm and end with a burial next to his beloved late wife Sim Yee. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be made in Robert Yee’s memory to the Acute Leukemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome Research Fund at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center: https://give.ucdavis.edu/CCAD/HOJB400 .