|Death: ||Jul. 3, 2009|
MARSTONS MILLS — Dong P. Wong, a respected civic leader in several Boston-area Chinese American civic associations, longtime owner of the Tiki Port Restaurant on Cape Cod, and an aerospace engineer who helped design U.S. military helicopters for Sikorsky during the 1960s, died suddenly after a brief illness at Cape Cod Hospital on Friday, July 3, 2009. He was 70 years old and celebrated his birthday just two weeks ago.
A first-generation Chinese American, Mr. Wong's story epitomized the classic American immigrant experience and humble beginnings to personal and professional success.
Born in 1939 to a cook/laborer and textile worker in the Hoiping area of Guangdong Province China, and the oldest of five children, Mr. Wong's childhood memories included jumping off the backs of water buffalo to catch river fish with his bare hands.
His father left the family for the United States just prior to World War II to earn enough money to bring back to his family in the States, leaving a young Mr. Wong, his mother and great-grandmother to fend off and narrowly survive death during the Japanese invasion of southern China during World War II. During the 1950s, because of the quota systems at the time, the rest of the family immigrated to the Boston area.
Mr. Wong graduated from the Don Bosco Technical Institute, and then worked in the restaurant business while earning a degree in aerospace engineering from Boston University in 1966. On a blind date and under the pretense that he needed help typing a paper, he was introduced to his wife, Nancy Ann Chin Wong of Brookline.
The couple married in 1966 and moved to Connecticut, where Mr. Wong worked as an aerospace engineer to develop the Sikorsky H-3/S-61R Sea King and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, while Nancy, a graduate of the Katherine Gibbs School, worked in the company's administrative office.
As the Vietnam effort wound down, projects grew sparser. Desiring more self-determination than the corporate world could give, Mr. Wong decided to go back to his roots in the restaurant business where, in his words, "I can make it or fail on my own."
In 1969 he opened his first restaurant in Woburn, Wong's Chateau Restaurant. It burned down and he rebuilt the restaurant in Winchester. He eventually sold it and moved with his family to Cape Cod to open The Tiki Port Restaurant, a local institution on Route 132 in Hyannis for more than 33 years.
The first small family restaurant eventually led to a group of four restaurants, including Tiki Palace in Marlboro, Tiki Harbor in downtown Hyannis, and Tiki Island in Medford. Eventually, in more recent years, he scaled back his businesses to Tiki Island and Tiki Port.
Mr. Wong was an active leader in the Chinese community, and especially with the Wong Benevolent Association and Chinese Welfare Society, which gives scholarships and assists struggling families and new immigrants from China. He enjoyed the social aspects of his roots and helping his fellow countrymen. In Chinatown, he was affectionately known as a wise and trusted advisor to people on their personal and business woes. He traveled frequently around the country and back to China to assist in his civic duties, strongly believing in the community responsibility to give back to others less fortunate so that they might someday realize their own version of the American Dream.
Mr. Wong was adamant about maintaining his ethnic heritage and equally passionate about being an American. His personality was indeed "bigger than life," warm and loving, affable, and engaged. His was often the first face warmly greeting customers entering the restaurant, and he was the life of any public gathering.
Those unfamiliar with his thick Chinese accent often had difficulty understanding his speech, and abroad he would often be asked, "Where are you from?" and "What are you?" regarding his nationality and ethnic identity, to which he would politely and proudly reply, "I'm an American!"
Mr. Wong is survived by his wife of 43 years, Nancy; a daughter, Amy of Somerville; a son, Dean and daughter-in-law Andrea; a grandson, Matthew; granddaughter Minah of Plymouth; three sisters, Beck Kazebee and her husband Clyde, Alice Lee of Watertown, and Pearl Wong of Randolph; and many nieces and nephews.
A wake will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, at the Wing Fook Funeral Home on Gerard Street in Boston. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 9, with the procession leaving at noon for interment at Forest Hills Cemetery.
The family requests that donations in his name be made to either the Alzheimer's Foundation or the American Cancer Society.
obituary from Cape Cod Times 07-06-09
Forest Hills Cemetery and Crematory
Created by: ditdit
Record added: Jul 05, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 39086685