Obituary of Chien Ping Fong
Chien Ping Fong, aged 93, passed away suddenly at his home in Mississauga on January 10, 2023. He was born on September 11, 1929, and was the eldest son of the late Han Cheng Fong and Chien Sung Lin. Chien is survived by his devoted wife of 53 years, Shinobu (neé Asada) of Mississauga; his son Alexandre (Theresa) and his granddaughter, Isabella, of Orlando, Florida. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Chen and his brother Kong.
Chien’s life began in China, but the tide of history and his professional pursuits took him around the globe. He lived through the second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Communist Revolution, survived a near deadly bout of scarlet fever, and weathered the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état. After completing his undergraduate education at Soochow University, he accompanied his brother Kong to Brazil in 1951, and their mother soon joined them. Settling eventually in São Paolo, he became a polymer chemist, and studied the violin as a hobby. He met Shinobu, and they welcomed son Alexandre within a few years. In 1969 Chien immigrated with his family to Toronto, and after a brief period of employment with H.B. Fuller Company, landed at Helmitin Inc., where he spent the rest of his professional career as a polymer chemist and company scientist. He genuinely enjoyed his time at Helmitin, and the opportunities it afforded him to travel for work to Germany and France as well as within the United States. During his time at Helmitin, Chien also successfully pursued a Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Technology from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. He was a proud member of several professional societies, including the Chemical Institute of Canada and The Association of the Chemical Profession of Ontario, of which he was a Chartered Chemist.
Following his retirement, he enjoyed being at home with his wife Shinobu, practicing his violin, doting on his granddaughter during annual trips to visit his son’s family, and travelling abroad with Shinobu. Chien valued family above all else, and cherished the well-being and togetherness of his beloved family members. He took great pride in his son’s accomplishments, and supported his granddaughter’s college pursuits. He also honored the lives and memories of family members who had passed away, preserving their legacies for his granddaughter.
Chien Ping Fong will be laid to rest at St. John’s Norway Cemetery at 256 Kingston Road in Toronto on February 8, 2023 at 2pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to World Central Kitchen via the Donations tab on his memorial web page.
Please share your memories, photos and sentiments of his life here at his memorial web page.
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I wake up every morning needing to remind myself that you are gone now. I catch myself thinking about something I should mention to you when we talk next and then realizing there's no point. I am in a daze sometimes during the day.
Like so many fathers and sons, we argued and fought all the time. Afterwards, I regretted every single disagreement, feeling that I should have handled things better but just didn't know how We were almost a cliche. I told you that sometimes. It genuinely baffled me why we were like that. As with almost everything in life, I find myself wishing I was a better person, more patient. I wish there were do-overs in life, even though I know things would turn out the same. We argued so much that Mom and Terri said it was just who we were -- the way we communicated with each other. Maybe they are right. There were times where we were on the same page. There was affection. I never doubted that you loved me, or that you wanted what you thought was best for me. The same was true for me, and that's always what we fought about. We were worried for each other. I know it was the same between you and Uncle, because you and he fought all the time too.
As much as I didn't want to admit it, a lot of who I am today is because of you. My daughter is so much like you, but in some important ways you and I are the same too. When I was younger, I wished I had the almost singular focus you and my girl have. I see now that isn't always good, but it certainly helps in some aspects of life like school. You showed me how to get there in spite of myself, that anything worthwhile comes from hard work and scholarship. Something I never admitted to you is that I wanted to make you proud of me. I was never comfortable with wanting your acceptance. It seemed like too big a challenge to meet your expectations, too long a list to complete. At times, and because I knew these were your dreams and not mine, I resented my need to earn your approval . And yet, I did find a way to change those dreams of yours, just enough so that they suited me, what I was interested in and what I wanted out of life. I tried to follow along the same trajectory or arc in which you wanted to see me succeed.
I know you told me so, but I still wonder if you felt vindicated by what I made of my life. Could my achievements make you proud enough that they made up for the struggles, sacrifices and setbacks that life and world history threw in front of you, Grandma and Uncle right from the start? History is not kind or glamorous when you are living it. I know all that trauma changed each of you. I don't think any of you were able to really trust people or fully enjoy life afterwards. Life was difficult to navigate in your new lives in the New World, and not just because of the language barriers. Mom, as you well knew, went through her own horrors because of the war. You all endured so much loss, pain and struggle. And yet, you not only survived life on three different continents and in three different languages, but you each achieved your own successes. Terri and I tried to show you both as much happiness and joy as we could and remind you that the world was not all bad. I think for the period after you both retired and were in that house you worked all your lives for, traveling around the world to visit family, you both finally got to experience some of the happiness you deserve. It wasn't nearly enough but I was grateful you got that much out of life. The picture of you here is from then. It's how I want to remember you. You were strong and healthy then, when Mom and you could safely walk and explore.
Grandpa, your father, was a hero. He and his colleagues courageously tried to save an entire country from itself to make a better world. For that, they paid the ultimate price. You showed me that heroes aren't the only ones who pay a price; their families do too. But these heroes in our family tree are good examples for me. They are reminders that all of us can be strong. That we can all be heroes when and if we want or need to be. I am very grateful for that legacy and for you being my father. I do appreciate everything you've done for us, even if in moments of discord it may not have seemed so. I am grateful the end for you was fast, that you did not suffer and that you were where you wanted to be when you went. We had spoken a lot about that, and I am relieved we got our wish for you. I'm hoping the universe is as kind to me.
When we spoke that last evening, I could feel the sadness in my voice and the weariness in yours. I think we both knew somehow. I now understand that you said goodbye to me that night in that dream.
We seldom agreed but I love you, Dad. I always will, because I know how hard you were trying. I am trying too.
Goodbye, Dad. Goodbye.