John Michael Chen Wing

November 14, 2022
In loving memory ~
“Mr. Chen Wing: what a memory!” is something we’ve heard again and again, even as he would routinely call one of us, his children, by the name of another. Or more commonly, by all three names, “SaraLisaRyan, bring me the newspaper!” he would holler.
Our father remembered almost every student he taught in his 35 years teaching in Terrace, and many students he didn’t teach. Not only did he remember their names, he would remember something about them; how they were in class, their relationships to others, or what they’d gone on to do.
As a young student in Trinidad, he was taught by V.S. Naipaul who would go on to write many novels and win the Nobel Prize for literature. In Naipaul’s letters to his father, published in 2011, he writes about our father: “This morning, too, I had a letter from Johnnie Chen Wing, the Chinese boy whom I taught at Tranquillity. He is sending me 10 pounds. I wonder why I impressed him in such a big way. At first meetings I usually do impress people, but I soon become my normal clowning self, and consequently go down in their esteem.”
Naipaul distilled what many of us have thought of Mr. Chen Wing, “I wonder why I impressed him.” Paying attention and remembering people is a form of love and respect, and in his own way our father showed love and respect to both Nobel Laureates and the ‘noble’ students of Caledonia Secondary School.
Our father understood how meaningful memories and recognition are. This was shown in his sponsorship and many hours put into the Caledonia Yearbook and fundraising for scholarships.
With our father anywhere in Terrace, someone would call out “Mr. Chen Wing!” and recount a memory. Our father’s face would light up as he recalled the same memory or something else about them. And as we walked away, he would tell us more about them, their friends, their families or the year that they graduated. He loved to talk to everyone and hear their stories. It warms our hearts to know how our father is remembered in the community.
Our father, John Michael Chen Wing, died on November 14, 2022 in Vancouver. Born in 1935 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago to James Cheng Wing and Jaim Young, “Johnnie” loved school. He came to Canada in 1959, attended UBC and started teaching in Terrace in 1965 at Skeena and then Caledonia Schools. There, in addition to teaching Biology, he led the yearbook committee, organized scholarships, coordinated an annual Science Fair and operated the canteen. He retired in 2000.
John loved news and politics; Caribbean, Chinese, and spicy foods; and Scottish country dancing. He volunteered with the Terrace & District Arts Council and supported the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.
John’s spouse Alice died in 1990. He is survived by us, his children, Sara (Andrew), Lisa (Brendan), and Ryan (Louise) and by his grandchildren Alice, Eloise, Harriet, and Jomay.
A donation to the Northwest Scholarship Foundation would continue John Chen Wing’s legacy. Send an e-transfer to nwsf2022@gmail. com with a note that it is for CRE-JCW (the Caledonia Recognition of Excellence Award, in honour of John Chen Wing) with your name and address for a tax receipt.
To share your memories of our father, email john@chen-wing.com. A memorial service will be planned for summer 2023.


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