On Sunday evening March 31, 2013 Richard Lee Yuen of Edmonton peacefully passed away at the age of 77 years after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
Richard was born in Hong Kong and moved to Calgary at the age of 10 months when his parents Lee Kow Yuen and Jessie (nee Ho Lem) returned to Canada amid worries during the early stages of WWII. Music was a big part of Richard’s early life. At age 5, he was a member of River Band at the Chinese school operated by the United Church in Calgary and he began taking piano lessons at age 8. Richard also spent over ten years singing baritone in the church choir as a teenager, was a member of the U of A’s chorus for two years, and was cast as “Lunta the Lover” in Edmonton Light Opera’s production of The King and I. Richard graduated from Westglen High School in 1954 and then graduated from the U of A with a Bachelor of Science in 1958. He earned his Secondary Studies Certificate in 1959 and began teaching – first at Parkview Elementary and then at Allendale Junior High. During this time, he also earned a Bachelor of Education (1961) and began studying psychology at graduate school in Oregon during the summers.
Richard then joined the Department of Indian Affairs responsible for adult education on the reserves, counseling programs, and aboriginal university and technical school students across Alberta. He assisted students in their financial assistance applications, ensured they had suitable housing and counseled them on course selection. It was during this time that Richard met and married his wife of 49 years, Margaret (nee Pon), on March 28, 1964 in Robertson-Wesley United Church. In 1971, with his four sons (Lance, Christopher, Todd and Mitchell) Richard and the family moved to Africa to help with Nigeria’s rebuilding as part of the Canadian International Development Agency. Richard was hired as Advisor to the Ministry of Education, charged with the task of setting up a guidance and counseling system for Nigerian secondary school students. Richard and the family returned to Canada in 1974 and Richard he resumed his work until his retirement in 1991.
Despite his work and other commitments, Richard always made his family his first priority. Whether taking Margaret shopping, helping his sons with their school work or coaching and watching them play community sports – Richard was always there to encourage and support his family in their many endeavors. Upon his retirement, Richard and Margaret traveled frequently with their favourite destinations being Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, cruising the Pacific and anywhere their sons and other family lived including trips across Canada and the U.S. – and to places as far away as Japan and China. Aside from his travels, Richard found time for his hobbies of bridge, playing the organ, his love of cars, and an occasional round of golf.
In addition to his loving wife, and sons, he is survived by two daughters-in-law (Anna, Susan), three grandchildren (Syerra, Danger, Triniti) and younger brother Gerry Yuen, his wife Sharon, and their family.
A Memorial Service will be held at Robertson Wesley United Church (10209 – 123 Street) on Saturday, April 6 at 3pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Edmonton Cross Cancer Institute or the Edmonton SPCA.
The family would also like to thank the doctors and nurses of the Cross Cancer Institute, Royal Alexandra Hospital, AHS SE Homecare Services and the Norwood Hospice for their outstanding care.