Vera Ing, the late community leader was known as the “glue” of the Asian community. But glue does not stick if it has nothing to attach to.
Vera was able to get community support because there was a force behind her, giving her strength and guidance through thick and thin, tears and laughter through all these years.
The man behind that, who was that the ‘glue,’ is Joey Ing, 78, Vera’s husband for half a century.
Joey retired as a successful architect of his own firm for multiple projects—the International District Children’s Park, South Seattle College, several restaurants, which include the House of Hong and the Anthony’s chain in the Puget Sound area.
Glue requires chemicals. It serves as an adhesive and cohesive force to make things attach. It creates bonds. Joey was the adhesive and protective chemical for Vera, as well as the community. Joey supported her goal of bonding communities. Their home was the house to host fundraising for numerous politicians, charities, and celebrate the success of Asian Americans breaking through the glass ceiling. Imagine the planning and strategies to entice people to open their pockets, and the mess and cleanup afterwards, for as many as a hundred people pouring through the house and yard for each occasion.
Over the years, I attended many of the Ings’ functions. Their home was like a community center before any real Asian community center was born.
Joey understood that gravity isn’t enough to keep the Asian community permanently in place, but at least, he and Vera paved the first step with their hospitality and readiness to develop goals for our community to accomplish.
The Ings contributed to our community, such as helping to revitalize the Chinatown/International District through Interim and the huge support of the Wing Luke Asian Museum. Regarding politics, the Ings worked hard for Gary Locke, and many mainstream candidates to ensure that they understood issues affecting the Asian community and they didn’t take the Asian community for granted.
What would it be like to grow up with a home functioning like a community center, seeing strangers enjoying the swimming pool during holidays?
The Ings’ three children, Joel, JaDeane, and Jeffrey grew up dealing with the issues and needs of the community and they witnessed community leadership in and out of their own home. What better way to teach their own children through their own examples?
Joel said it nurtured and prepared them to give back. “It was easy for me to serve on the Interim board.”
Vera was a long-time volunteer and Interim’s board president. Both son and mother were long-time volunteers and Interim’s board president.
“While Mom was the one who usually got the headlines, Dad was equally committed to the community and gave back much of his time,’’ said Joel. “He hired many recently graduated architect students out of the University of Washington over the years and helped them learn the business while working on some interesting restaurant, community college, or other commercial project.
“What is fitting about being awarded the Bob Santos Sustainability Award and presented with a Gerry Tsutukawa bronze piece is that Mom and Dad gave Gerry one of this first big opportunities in the mid 1970’s with the design of the bronze dragon which is the centerpiece and which generations of kids have played on at the International District Children’s Park.”
Joey suggested legendary sculpture and painter George Tsutukawa’s son, Gerry, design something for the park, since George was so busy.
Gerry designed the bronze “Mitt” which is the public art centerpiece located prominently on the corner of 1st Avenue outside of Safeco Field.
As the designer for all of Anthony’s 24 restaurants in the Puget Sound area, you don’t feel that each one is a copycat. Instead, each of the chain restaurants is slightly different from one another and has its distinct identity.
Joey was a gentleman. The decades I’ve known Joey, he let his wife do all the talking, allowing her to be the spotlight. He knew Vera would like that so he usually remained in the background.
He was always the clown, his goal was to entertain, making people laugh. Yet when he gave his acceptance speech for the Interim award recently, he was actually a genuine speaker—funny, and thoughtful. His words offered an enlightened attitude towards life. And he didn’t even have a script.
While Vera was a high-profile chair of the North Seattle Community College Foundation, Joey also chaired the South Seattle Community College Foundation simultaneously, but few people knew about it. He never made much noise about his contributions.
Congratulations to Mr. Nice Guy, Joey, Joel, and family for the award. This recognition is long overdue! (end)