By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Edward Shui “Ping” Chow passed away peacefully on June 29, 2011, at the age of 94. He was born on November 5, 1916, in Canton, China. He was the sixth of eight children and the youngest son.
As a youth, Ping became an apprentice to a Chinese opera singer as a way to make money for his family. Ping learned from his tutelage and became a Cantonese opera star.
While traveling with his opera troupe, he met a waitress in New York named Ruby Mar. They fell in love and got married. He joined the U.S. Army and received his citizenship upon his honorable discharge. Ping, Ruby, and the couple’s first two kids moved to Seattle, where Ping built a Chinese restaurant, Ruby Chow, named after his wife.
As the chef, Ping popularized Chinese cuisine in the city of Seattle. His wife served as the restaurant’s hostess. Ruby Chow restaurant, located at Broadway and Jefferson, became a place frequented by notable political dignitaries, CEOs, and famous movie stars. It was the first successful Chinese restaurant outside of Seattle’s Chinatown neighborhood.
Even while working as a chef at the restaurant, Ping always found time for his five children and his wife. Ping, along with Ruby, were heavily involved in community activities in Seattle. His wife, Ruby, was the first Asian American woman on the King County Council. Staying true to his past, he sponsored visiting Cantonese opera troupes.
Sometimes, he performed with the visiting troupes to raise money for such organizations such as the Seattle Chinese Community Girls Drill Team and the Wing Luke Museum. He was the president of the Chong Wa Benevolent Association, an organization dedicated to the rights of Chinese immigrants. He also served as an adviser to the group. He was active in the American Legion—Cathay Post #186. Ping also was involved in the March of Dimes and the Seattle Times Fund for the Needy. Known for his generosity, Ping purchased the first dragon to run in the Seafair Parade. The Republic of China awarded him a rare honor by appointing him an overseas ambassador. He will best be remembered as “Uncle Ping” or “Yeh-Yeh.” Quick to flash a friendly smile, he gave impromptu kung fu demonstrations as he laughed and played with his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“He was a wonderful father, devoted husband who loved his family and served his community by giving back,” said Cheryl Chow, Ping’s daughter. “Mom and dad were great role models,” Chow added, “A lot of people will read about my dad being an opera singer and a cook, but I’d like to share that he was a great father and very caring and sharing.”
He now joins his beloved wife of 70 years, Ruby, who passed in 2008. He is greatly missed by his children: Edward Jr.,Shelton, Cheryl, Brien, and Mark.
He is also survived by his daughters-in law, Dr. Margaret, Jeannie, Marcia, and Carol. He was proud of his grandchildren, Dr. Ward, Melissa, Christopher, Dr. Elizabeth, Matthew, Kyle, Michael, Taylor, and Cayla. His great-grandchildren also gave him great joy: Elliot, Alex, Cyrus, Benjiro, Elleri, and Kimiko. He is also missed by his sisters, Pok Man Kwai and Man Ying Wang, and many nephews and nieces. The family is grateful for the care and support given at Kin On. ♦
Services will be held on Saturday, July 16, 2011, at 12 p.m. at Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home. A graveside service will follow. Memorial donations can be made to Chong Wa Education Society, P.O. Box 28832, Seattle, WA 98118.