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Jack Bow Wong passed away peacefully of natural causes on May 9, 2018, at Angels for the Elderly, Montgomery, AL, at the age of 98. By his side at the time of his transition were his loving wife, Jean Chin Wong; his daughter, Irene Wong; and his son-in-law, Alan Gribben. As a boy, Jack Wong stayed behind with his mother in a village in Canton, China while his father immigrated to the United States and established several businesses in Fresno, CA. Jack and his older brother, William, took over those enterprises after his father passed suddenly during a visit he made to China. Eventually, Jack managed a prosperous restaurant, Dragon Café, that he and his brother owned in Fresno. Jack's warm personality, sense of humor, and ability to remember names and faces made the café so popular that local politicians, Hollywood films stars like Robert Mitchum, and soldiers passing through Fresno during World War II stopped to dine on delicious Chinese and American food at Dragon Café, which stayed open until four o'clock in the morning. In the 1950s, the Wong brothers sold the café and opened a succession of Fresno businesses, Wong's City Market on Highway 99, Fairland Department Store in Chinatown, and Wong's Food Mart on Olive Avenue. Jack was a co-owner and general manager of the latter grocery store, and his nephew, Tom, and his wife, Gina Wong, ran the meat department and a take-out restaurant. Jack became a well liked figure among his customers and the large Chinese community in Fresno. After retiring and living with his older daughter, Lorraine, and her husband, Alex Fabros, for several decades, helping them rear their daughters, Michelle and Alexandra, Jack and Jean moved to Montgomery, AL in 2013, to live with their younger daughter, Irene, who retired as a school guidance counselor to become their chief caregiver. As their health declined, Jack and Jean resided in assisted living apartments in Oak Grove, then Country Cottage, and finally Angels for the Elderly. They were visited often by their Fresno family members. Jack developed and never lost a passion for music. He could play Chinese and American folk songs, "Clementine" and "Home on the Range," on the harmonica and the Chinese butterfly harp, a hammered dulcimer. Later he also learned to play the piano. He took particular pleasure in playing and singing patriotic songs, "The Star-Spangled Banner," "America the Beautiful," "God Bless America," and American standards, like "As Time Goes By," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and "Danny Boy." If he favored one musical piece above all others, it was "Moon River." Jack Wong was preceded in death by his father, Jeung Don Wong; his mother, Don Toi Woon; his brother, William Dock Wong; sister-in-law, Katherine Wong; his brother, Gim Wong; and his nephew, James Wong. He leaves behind his wife, Jean Chin Wong, to whom he was almost, short of only one month, married for 71 years. He is also survived by his daughters, Lorraine Fabros of Fresno, CA, and Irene Wong of Montgomery, AL; sons-in-law, Alex Fabros, and Alan Gribben; and grandchildren, Michelle Fabros-Emerling and her husband Chris of Fresno, CA, Alexandra Fabros-Davis and her husband Nick of Fresno, CA, Walter Gribben of St. Louis, MO, and Valerie Gribben of San Francisco, CA. His brother William's children, Frederick, Wellington, Benedict, Patricia, and Isabella, likewise mourn his loss; as do Tom and Gina Wong, and their children, Nanette Hernandes, Kent Wong, and Janette Wong. A Memorial Service for Jack Wong was held on May 24, 2018, in Fresno, CA.
Published in the Fresno Bee on Aug. 12, 2018