Several men, young and old, glided across the room to dance with an old, pretty woman, and she never refused. At 93, Anne Wing’s amazing figure could perform the cha cha, swing, waltz, rumba, and even a line dance without missing a beat.
On March 3, Anne and David Wing celebrated their birthdays together with 230 guests at the Jumbo Chinese Restaurant. It was David’s 94th. He’s been in a wheelchair since last year. I remember that they both had been vibrant dancers.
We met more than 30 years ago. As co-chair of the Miss Chinatown Pageant, Anne did a lot behind the scenes, helping the contestants get dressed, doing their make-up, training them to be poised in public speaking, and she even loaned her best dresses to the girls on pageant night. Those dresses became gifts when they were not returned.
It’s not that Anne doesn’t fit those dresses.
“It’s only money, material things,” she said. “If you give [it] out, you don’t ask for it back. It’s not important. I don’t worry about them.”
Anne doesn’t wear glasses or contacts. She doesn’t even have hearing or health issues. She doesn’t need any special medication.
Anne’s fitness secrets
In the past decades, Anne’s figure remains the same, at 120 pounds. Aside from being active, Anne avoids junk food and deep-fried food.
She told her kids, “If you put garbage in your mouth, your body will contain garbage. You have to take care of yourself. Stay healthy and stay active.”
How does she have so much energy?
Anne’s energy is boundless. When I met her in 1981, I thought she was retired and had all the time to volunteer for the Miss Chinatown pageant. My way of thinking was erroneous.
Later, I saw her working in her own laundry shop on Rainier Beach. She was busy, serving customers, doing the dirty work as well. In her spare time, she would cook all kinds of traditional Chinese pastries for charity. Mind you, she’s American-born, yet she’s skilled in traditional Chinese cooking. Embarrassingly, I don’t know any of these recipes myself.
“She is always doing good things for everybody,” said her friend Neta Ding. Anne doesn’t sleep much at night. She said she doesn’t need rest. Even when she is in bed, she is thinking about what she can do the next day for her family and the community.
Once, she heard a group of performers sing. Immediately, she thought of having them to perform for Kin On’s Christmas party. She asked them if they would do it pro bono for seniors. They said yes. Since then, they have been performing at Kin On for free for 20 years.
Another time, she asked Faye Hong, owner of Hong’s Garden to donate food for Kin On’s party. He has been donating ever since.
With a heart full of compassion, Anne has been a caretaker for ill relatives and friends, including her husband for the past eight years. Her house showcases her community service awards from mainstream people, as well as the Chinese community.
At her birthday party, Anne danced from the beginning until the end. Her memory is incredible. She even gave a short speech at the party. She remembers everyone, whereas my 82-year-old mother does not remember many of my friends. Never was there a moment of slowness in Anne’s body or of perplexity in her environment.
“Auntie Anne has always been my role model,” said Vi Mar who has known Anne since childhood.
A moment of triumph for David was when he stood up and asked to dance. He wasn’t able to stand up before. He fell a bit, and his daughters held him up. The audience said this was an emotional moment at the party, and everyone was moved.
“It brought tears to my eyes to see Anne and David dancing, which was a highlight,” said their friend Ann Bishop, of Wallace Properties, Inc. “I realize how much it must have meant to [David] to be able to hold his bride in his arms on such a special occasion.”
Anne and David had requested no gifts for their birthday party. Yet, the party was a lavish feast, with lobster, fish, chicken, and other dishes. Also, they had prepared 23 gifts for friends, called Anne’s favorite things. They were not little items, but big cookware and goodies, ranging from $60 to $100.
No doubt, this was an expensive party. The couple’s kids paid for it.
I asked Anne’s oldest son, Larry Luke, one of the organizers, why he did it with so much fanfare.
“I only have one mother,” he responded.
In addition, the Wings donated money to their nine favorite charities, and representatives from these organizations were invited. Oh yes, three former Miss Chinatown queens were present, too.
“There’s so much love [from all my friends]. I feel really humbled by all this love,” Anne said.
If there’s a legacy Anne has, it would be, “Life is to be spent living.”
“It’s a grand party,” said one friend. (end)