Ong Bing Lok - David W. Tang, Sr.
Based on a speech honoring David Tang on the occasion of his 70th birthday
It was in the "Year of the Tiger" when Ong Bing Lok was born into a village inhabited by the Tang clan. He was the only son in a family of four. Because he was a boy, a celebration was held when he reached the age of one month. During this celebration his head was shaved, and everyone feasted on roast pig and red eggs, symbolizing the family's wishes for his future happiness and fertility. The ceremonies established his status in the Tang lineage, and he was then registered in the community halls of the Tang Family Association.
In China, a boy's first name is his surname, indicating his immediate ancestry. His middle name is determined by the year in which he is born, and also establishes his peer level. The third name is his personal name.
When Ong Bing Lok was 18 months old, his Father died leaving his mother responsible for the task of renting out family lands. His grandparents and extended family helped raise him. He helped on their farm by carrying water and fertilizer to the plants. He loved to raise birds and to catch fish by swimming underwater and using his bare hands to capture them.
Eventually his mother and grandparents decided that he should seek his fortune in "The Gold Mountain." "Gold Mountain" was the term used for the United States, where it was said that men could practically shovel money from the streets. Little did wives and families realize that in reality men had to work very hard for a livelihood. At the young age of 12, Ong Bing Lok arrived in America where he lived with his eldest sister and her family in Cincinnati, Ohio.
His first encounter with formal education was at St. Xavier School. Ong Bing Lok often told of the many religious pictures he would draw to delight his teachers. Because of these drawings, the principal took a special interest in him and tutored him after school in all subjects; but most importantly the principal taught him to speak and write English. His ability to draw provided an instant way to communicate his thoughts and his curiosity about the new and foreign world around him. Not knowing how to speak English, he used pictures to come closer to those around him.
After the school day, Ong Bing Lok helped watch his nieces and nephews, and helped with the family's laundry business. He eventually was baptized and given the Christian name of David Tang. ("Ong" and "Tang" are the same surname in different Chinese dialects.)
During the early 1930's, David obtained a job as a grocery clerk and butcher for relatives in Phoenix, Arizona. Later he moved to Tucson, accepting an offer to manage the butcher department at T&T Market.
In 1938, the sister of one of his friends was returning to Tucson from Texas. He wanted to meet her, and being creative, he carved a welcome message on a Halloween pumpkin and sent it as a greeting. When she arrived on the train from Texas, she was thrilled to receive his clever greeting. That girl was Esther Don.
David and Esther were married in June of 1942. Before their marriage, David had purchased a house and, with $789.00 he had managed to save, started a business. Those were tough years running the market on Campbell Avenue because help was scarce due to the war. By working as a team, putting in endless hours, and carefully planning, David and Esther were able to purchase a few pieces of real estate.
By 1984, David owned and operated a successful commercial complex, and managed his own liquor and beverage store, "Dave's Beverages." David was well-known as a capable businessman, and as a valued friend who possessed both reserved charm and wit. David and Esther raised three daughters- Patti, Cherry, and Elizabeth and one son- David Jr., and are the grandparents of one girl and five boys.
On March 1, 1984 David was honored on his 70th birthday by a gathering of family and friends. The following is an excerpt from a speech given at the anniversary:
David Tang's friends and family were asked to pay their high tributes and respects by attending a banquet in honor of him. Each guest was given a container of nine sweetened, preserved kumquats that symbolizes the family's wishes for a sweet, golden and rich long life, and the green flowers, with which the preserves were decorated, signify growth and abundance.
Among the gifts presented to David, by his family, were a mounted antique fan, which was originally presented to his grandfather, a revered scholar, by their native village, and a wind banner with the symbol of the tiger on it, to commemorate the year of his birth. Each streamer on the banner represents each grandchild. The Mayor of Tucson presented him with a copper letter, honoring him as an outstanding citizen. A congratulatory letter from Senator Dennis DeConcini was read by the Senator's Father, Judge Evo DeConcini.
On October 27, 2002, David Tang passed away. The following is from the Arizona Daily Star, October 31, 2002, obituary.
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