Gibsons has lost a well-respected and much-loved figure in the local business community.
Tain Sung Chong, co-owner of Fong’s Market on Marine Drive, died Jan. 29 at the age of 84.
He leaves behind his wife, Mrs. Lee Chong, and children Jeremy, Pearl, Crystal and Gordon.
The store reopened this week after a brief closure and a steady stream of customers, some with flowers or cards, has been stopping in to offer condolences.
Mayor Bill Beamish also offered condolences on behalf of the Town. “He was always a gentleman,” Beamish said. “We’re wishing the family all the best during this time.”
Crystal Chong, who spoke to Coast Reporter on the family’s behalf, said the response to her father’s passing has been overwhelming. “We are honoured to have such a community to back us.”
Chong said her father, originally from Borneo, came to Canada to practise his trade as a welder in Alberta, where her parents were married in 1981.
After Tain Sung was granted Canadian citizenship in 1983, the couple moved to Vancouver and it was the desire to open a business and family connections that brought them to the Sunshine Coast not long afterwards.
Those family connections included Billy Fong, who had established Fong’s Market just a couple of doors down from its current location, and the Chongs took over the business.
Despite having little formal education, Tain Sung proved to be as talented an entrepreneur as he was a welder.
Crystal Chong recalled her uncle saying the store wasn’t a success until her father took over. She also said her father set an example by showing that no matter how hard something is, if you keep trying you’ll be successful.
He was not a man to seek publicity or the spotlight, Crystal said, but he took great pride in what he achieved in business and had enduring gratitude for his customers.
“Though his time here on earth was very much involved in the store, it was what he was going to leave for us after he passed that was really important to him – that no matter where he is that we would be taken care of,” she said.
The Chong family has no public memorial planned at this time, and has asked that in lieu of flowers people consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org).
“We extend our sincerest gratitude and thanks for the support from our friends in the community at this time,” Crystal said. “It was my father’s pleasure to serve you.”