Mary Pang, savvy businesswoman and devoted wife
Last updated 3-12-09 at 1:56 p.m.
By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
After living 87 strong years, Mary Pang passed away on March 6 from a sudden heart attack, three weeks after her birthday.
A University of Washington alumni, Mary Pang met her future husband Harry Pang in college and they married in 1945. Success soon followed the couple when they decided to open a business in 1952. It was a frozen Asian food business, which was eventually named “Mary Pang’s Frozen Foods Products.” Initially, Pang’s sister, the late Ruby Chow, helped the couple with their business. Chow was known for being a restaurateur and the first Asian American on the King County Council.
Pang was known for being a sharp businesswoman. She concentrated on the sales and marketing aspect of her company while her husband ran the kitchen.
Following their success, the Pangs adopted two children. Both children were from Hong Kong.
“I still talked to [Mary] every Sunday,” said Betty Yee, who was like another adopted daughter for the Pangs. Yee became part of the family when she started working for the their business. “I call her kai-ma (godmother). They raised me since I was 12. I lost my mother at 6. I became [Marlyce and Martin’s] big sister. I was always there for them.”
The Pangs retired in 1998, after nearly 50 years in the business. The Pangs had a low-key retirement, relaxing and taking care of each other. Harry Pang passed away in April 2004.
“Mary and Harry were very kind and generous people,” said Yee.
Mary Pang is survived by her two children, Marlyce and Martin. Martin is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for setting fire to a warehouse his mother owned for an insurance payout. The fire caused the deaths of four firefighters.
Mary Pang is also survived by two adult grandchildren, McKenzie and Kristin Pang. Kristin Pang had been living with and taking care of Mary Pang up until her passing. They lived on Mercer Island. (end)
A memorial for Mary Pang will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 13, at Butterworth Funeral Home, Arthur A. Wright Chapel, 520 West Raye Street, Seattle.