Many of you remember my father, Kwong Wen, from the days of our family’s restaurant. His lesson to me and my two sisters was simple – hard work makes your dreams come true. My father was the epitome of the American dream.
Born in Canton, China, he made his way to Hong Kong as a teenager, and spent his early years working as a welder. He fell in love and married my mom Tan Ping. When I traveled to China about two years ago with my wife, we went to several of his favorite places – including the Hong Kong Jockey Club to enjoy his beloved horse races.
But my father dreamed about the promise of America, and immigrated to Rhode Island with my mom in 1969. I was practically a stowaway as my mom was several months pregnant. I was born at the old Lying-In Hospital in Providence, and would be followed by my sisters Anna & Arlene. When my parents opened up their restaurant, Kong Wen, it became our second home. After school, my dad would insist I do my homework in the corner booth before I began work bussing tables, washing dishes, & waiting on our customers. Over the years, I learned to cook at the side of my hero, my father.
After owning the restaurant for over thirty five years, my parents finally retired. To stay healthy during his early years battling Parkinson’s, he would be seen walking all over Garden City, every morning, with his adored daughter Arlene. Neighbors would wave and look out for them both. After several illnesses, he required around the clock care at The Cedars, where the love and attention he received was second to none.
All my parents ever asked for was for the opportunity to succeed. They knew that in America, the options were endless, & the only requirement was hard work. They worked tirelessly seven days a week for decades. I am so proud of their story, their bravery, and their devotion to ensuring their children had a better life.
His passing this weekend only hardened my resolve to reinvigorate this state, which they chose to start their new life in America, as the land of opportunity for the next generation. In his memory, we fight harder & recommit this movement to make Rhode Island the place that people want to come to in order to live out their American dream.
My family and I appreciate the overwhelming kind words of support so many of you have sent since his passing on Saturday. A public remembrance and wake will take place at Nardolillo Funeral Home on 1278 Park Avenue in Cranston on Wednesday, from 4-8 PM. We will also be receiving visitors Thursday morning from 9-10 AM at Nardolillo Funeral Home, followed by a procession and graveside service in Highland Memorial Park, Johnston.