On March 23rd, 2010, Yuk Li, one of the founders of CHS and the first chairman of the CHS School Board, died after eights years of battle with cancer.
As the first chairman of the CHS board, Yuk played a key role in coordinating the various activities important to the establishment of the school, such as registering it as a non-profit organization, writing the bylaws and selecting “Chinese Heritage” as the name for the school. Yuk showed tremendous passion and energy in this. Very quickly, the Board came together with a common goal and vision in mind and was bonded by friendship. Yuk hosted meetings almost every weekend at home for the board to discuss work plans and execute them accordingly. Yuk frequently regaled his friends with his home-made deserts and refreshments, which clearly helped to make the long meetings more enjoyable and productive.
Yuk was very active in school for the first several years. He taught two years of “Project Class” and one year of Adult Class. Even when the illness prevented him from coming to school, he still kept in touch with school news and affairs through email. In early 2010, to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of CHS, Yuk pledged to donate $1000 to establish a fund to recognize teachers and staff who had made significant contributions to the school’s success. Although Yuk passed away before the 10th anniversary celebration, his commitment to the school continued. His donation of $1000 was used to establish the Yuk Li Fund. Four teachers were recognized for their exceptional contribution and dedication. Friends, families and parents, in memory of Yuk, have contributed over $7000 to the Yuk Li Fund. THANK YOU to all for your generous donation.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Chinese Heritage School. Please note “Yuk Li Fund” on the memo of your check.
Remembering Yuk by Dr. Tak Kwan
Yuk was born in Tse Wan San, Hong Kong, in August, 1956. He was the youngest of the 4 children. He has two older sisters and an older brother. Yuk was a hard working and kind hearted kid. He cooked for his family since young age. He was smart and dedicated. During middle and high school he got very good grades, and participated in different school activities. He was particularly interested in photo-shooting and acting (in drama).
When he was 19 years old, he immigrated to the United States, together with his family. He lived in New York, and attended the Baruch College, majoring in Computer Science. He met many of his great friends during those years. He always said that those were the years with most fun, learned the most and cumulated most precious memories. He had a lot of passion with everything he did. He tried different sports like tennis, soccer and jogging. He liked cars and most of all sport cars. In fact, he owned a BMW M3.
Yuk’s first job after graduation was with AT&T, being a system engineer. He worked in Newark for about 7 years. He then moved to work for Johnson & Johnson and became a Technical Advisory Member.
Yuk was married to his high school sweetheart, Ann. They bought their first house in Edison in 1984, and subsequently moved to Belle Mead where they live until now. They raised a lovely son, Seaver. Yuk was a loving father. He was the primary caregiver taking Seaver to and from the Johnson & Johnson Child Care Center, until Seaver graduated from Kindergarten there. He continued to be the primary driver, taking Seaver to his piano practices, swimming practice and swim meets.
Yuk was always the chef of the house. He had special talent in cooking. He enjoyed entertaining and surprising friends with his special delicious dishes. However, he never shared any of his recipes with anyone. He could cook Chinese and Italian and whatever he saw from a cook book. I am sure many of you have tried his cream cuff and his egg tart蛋撻. These literally bring back sweet memories of Yuk.
Yuk was very active in Chinese School. He and some friends came together and formed the Chinese Heritage School in 2000. Many of you probably still remember the many weekends having meeting in his house talking about the plans for establishing the school. He was actually the first chairman of the School board. Creating the Chinese Heritage School with his friends was another one of his proud accomplishments.
Unfortunately, in January 2002 Yuk was diagnosed with cancer, Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma. That time, the cancer was small. But since the cancer was deep in the middle of his head, no surgery could be done. He went through radiation and chemotherapy; and continued with different forms of treatment on and off through the years. The Cancer has remised for a short while, but it never went away. His disease, the side-effects from the treatments continued to weaken him. Even though he remained a toughest fighter, this battle with cancer just proved to be too much on him. It is the right time for him to rest and have a peaceful reconciliation with this world. Yuk leaves behind memories of how he had lived a fruitful life with passion, how he had embraced friendship with all who came in contact with him, and how he showed admirable strength and courage through the time of illness. Yuk, a beloved husband, father, brother and a good friend of many of us, is in a better place now.
Tributes by Gabriel Lau
I first met Yuk and Ann 20 years ago, on a very happy occasion at St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick, where their son and our daughter were born on the very same day. I am honored to share with you a few perspectives on Yuk as a person with many talents and interests.
Let me illustrate my remarks by taking you on a tour of the home of the Li family, and describing to you how Yuk had used the various spaces in his residence.
First let us go to their dining room. When I first knew Yuk, it was used as an exercise gym, with lots of weight-lifting equipment. Yuk was very much into body building in those days. This calls to mind the athletic abilities of Yuk. He jogged 2-3 miles almost every day. He was a half marathon runner. Later, as Seaver grew up, Yuk was willing to remove all the exercise equipment in his dining room, so as to clear the space for an elaborate train set for his son to play with. This shows his devotion to Seaver. Before Seaver went to elementary school, Yuk took him to the daycare facility at his workplace every day. When Seaver got interested in swimming, Yuk drove him to lessons and swim meets all the time.
We next arrive at their living room, the entire space there is taken up by a Steinway grand piano, which they have acquired so that Yuk and Seaver could learn the instrument together. It is very admirable for a man in his 40s to have the patience and tenacity to start taking piano lessons.
The kitchen has got to be Yuk’s favorite space in the house. Many of us know that Yuk is a first-rate chef, and can cook delicious Chinese and western dishes without reference to any cookbooks or recipes. I shall always retain fond memories of the many evenings of conversations over the marvelous cuisine that he had cheerfully prepared for us.
Now let us stop by the breakfast area next to the kitchen. When we visited their home and saw Yuk one last time, about 2 weeks ago, I noticed that, even with his declining health, Yuk had installed a beautiful aquarium tank in this space, and it is decorated with all kinds of tropical corals. Yuk and Ann took delight in describing to us how the body mass of these amazing creatures expands at nighttime.
Finally, we go down to the basement, where Yuk had built a photographic darkroom. Before the digital age, Yuk used to enjoy taking pictures with his film cameras, and doing the wet photo-processing himself. He has shown me some of the works coming out of his darkroom, and they are truly artistic.
By joining with me on this brief tour of the Li residence, I hope you can appreciate Yuk’s many pursuits in life, as well as his devotion to his family and his friends.
My friends, while we mourn his passing today, let us also take this occasion to celebrate Yuk’s rich and purposeful life as a human person. Let us be inspired by his example of living Life at its fullest.