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In Memoriam
Sifu E.Y. Lee

Everett Yet Wah Lee, a long-time teacher of traditional Chinese martial arts in San Francisco, died peacefully on April 28th, 2013, at the San Francisco VA Medical Facility. He was born on July 24th, 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri to Lee Dew Jeang and Luong Shee.

Though born in Kansas City, he was raised in San Wui, China where at a very young age he began learning Chinese martial arts. Chinese-Japanese hostilities began to endanger his family in China in 1941 but as his family could only afford to send one member back to the safety of the United States, he was sent on the four-day ocean crossing to San Francisco's Angel Island, alone at the age of 13.

Shortly after his arrival to San Francisco, he worked odd jobs, continued his martial arts training and, by the age of nineteen, joined the US Army and was promptly sent to the front lines of the Korean War. Four years and two purple hearts later, he was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant, Regular Army, and began a long career in acting, professional body building, and martial arts instruction.

Dedicated to pursuing his acting career, Everett landed various roles on television and on the big screen, such as The Streets of San Francisco, Blood Alley, and Star Trek. His primary passion however, was Chinese martial arts and after being accepted by Sifu Lau Bun, a famous teacher in Chinatown, he eventually became a widely recognized Master of both the Choy Lee Fut style of Kung Fu and the Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan. In the Chinese martial arts community, he was known as "Sifu E.Y. Lee," and to the hundreds of students coming from all walks of life, he was known simply as "Sifu." Many of his students were attracted to his school because of his reputation as a Master, but stayed because of his humility, his humor, his storytelling, and his philosophical and kind heart. He was a father figure to many.

Sifu E.Y. Lee was a man who spent his life training others in the arts of fighting and meditation and leaves a lasting legacy of love and a community of students committed to carry on his teachings. Sifu E.Y. Lee has no living immediate family. He is survived by his many loving students, his Kung Fu family.

A memorial is scheduled for June 8th from 1pm to 3pm at Ashley & McMullen-Wing Sun Mortuary in the Inner Richmond District of San Francisco. You may call (415) 751-8403 for details. The memorial will be followed by a banquet at the KL Restaurant on 45th Avenue and Balboa Street, San Francisco.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on May 12, 2013
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