Wilbur K. Woo
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Wilbur Kuotung Woo believed there were two pillars of a good life: loyalty and filial piety. "A man has to be completely loyal not only to himself," he said some years ago, "but to the community he serves and to his family."
Vice chairman emeritus of Cathay Bank, longtime leader of the Chinese-American community, small business owner, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Wilbur died Nov. 12, 2012 at his home in Monterey Park. He was 96.
A native of China who immigrated to America at age 5, he is survived by his wife of nearly 75 years, Beth; children Pat, Mike, Elaine and Pam; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Daughter Janice died in 2008.
Wilbur was a leader of many organizations promoting the welfare of Chinese Americans. He rose to national president of the pioneering Chinese American Citizens Alliance and helped persuade Washington lawmakers to pass the historic Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which lifted restrictive quotas on immigrants from China and Taiwan.
Believing he also had a responsibility to build relationships outside the Chinese-American community, he became an active member and leader of a host of civic-minded groups, including the Masonic Temple, the Rotary Club and local human relations commissions.
He was privileged to serve as an overseas representative to Taiwan's legislative body and cofounded the California-Taiwan Trade and Investment Council. In later years, as China opened up to the West, he and his family made a number of trips back to his ancestral village in Guangdong Province.
In his last decades he dedicated himself to philanthropy, endowing the Wilbur K. Woo Greater China Business Conference at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and becoming a major supporter of the Chinese Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.
"I should thank the community for giving me the opportunity to serve," he reflected in an interview as he neared 90. "I was allowed to be able to serve. And that's what I did."
Visitation will be held 6-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, at Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary, 3888 Workman Mill Rd., Whittier, Calif. 90601. A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Rose Hills' Sky Rose Chapel.
Memorial donations may be sent to: The Huntington Library Chinese Garden, 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, CA 91108. Attn: Suzy Moser; The Friends of the Chinatown Library c/o Chinatown Branch Library, 639 North Hill St., Los Angeles, CA 90012; Chinatown Service Center, Attn: Donation Services, 767 North Hill St., Ste. 400, Los Angeles, CA 90012; and the Chinese American Museum, 125 Paseo de la Plaza, #300, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 25, 2012