Herbert Vernon Wong, 93, died peacefully at home with family at bedside on July 25, 2016, due to complications from end-stage kidney failure. An extraordinary father and husband, he was an exceptionally loving man, kind and gentle with those close to him, but able to draw on steely strength and determination when called for, in a life filled with adventure, laughter and enduring love.
Born in Chicago on February 17, 1923, Herbert grew up as a scrappy and independent kid in Kansas City, Missouri, selling soda by cart, shining shoes of suspected mobsters, selling the Kansas City Star for a nickel (after buying it for a penny), getting tips at age 7 or 8 as a bellboy's helper in the local hotel, and hanging out at his grandfather's herbal clinic. At age 16, after graduation from high school, he came to California in the back rumble seat of his family's car, and settled in the Napa area. As was typical of those of his great generation, he worked long and grueling hours, helping to support his family in the aftermath of the Depression. One day, while walking down Market Street in San Francisco, he saw a large billboard poster of a fighter pilot in his flight gear, and promptly enlisted in the Army Air Forces. As a combat fighter pilot of a P-38 for the famous 475th fighter group in the Pacific theater, he was supremely proud to have served the country he loved. Herb went to college on the GI Bill, attending Napa Junior College, UC Berkeley and University of San Francisco. In 1948, he met Erline Lowe on the single tennis court at SF's Chinese playground. He fell in love with this athletic, funny, outgoing and popular woman, and married her six weeks later. They ultimately settled in San Francisco, Herb working as a process engineer in what was to be the Silicon Valley, and Erline, as a well-loved teacher. Together, they spent the next 61 years having a blast, raising a family, playing an enormous amount of tennis, fishing at Clear Lake, and eating as much delicious Chinese food as possible. After retirement, Herb and Erline moved to Vacaville where they enjoyed many joy-filled years, playing tennis with friends at the Vacaville Raquet Club, escaping to the casinos in Reno, cheering Joe Montana and the 49ers and hosting weekend and holiday dinners for their children and grandchildren.
Herb spent his twilight years in his Davis home, enveloped by the love of his family. With extraordinary devotion, he cared for Erline during her decline, and remained an inspiration to his family for his elegance, strength and deep abiding love. He was a beautiful, gallant man, a family treasure who will forever remain in the hearts of those who love him: his children, Gail (Kerry) and Vernon, grandchildren Kelly, Garrett, Mimi and Chelsea, brother Donald (Teresa) and his five children, nieces Janice and Maureen, and sister-in-law, Helen. Services will be in Davis on Saturday, Aug 13. Please contact daughter, Gail, for more information (530-756-3402).
Saturday, August 13, 2016
820 Pole Line Road
Davis, CA 95618