“For many of us, Vera was like a mother…she had a great heart and always saw kindness in people. Our community lost a great friend and a beautiful person.” — Jerry Lee, Mulvanny/G2
By Sue Misao
Northwest Asian Weekly
Long time community activist Vera Faye Ing died on Jan. 18, 2014. She was 73.
Vera was born in Seattle on Sept. 28, 1940, to D. Kan Chan and Ho Tim Chan. She spent her first years living in Chinatown, where her parents owned Don Ting Restaurant. She graduated from Garfield High School in 1958, and received a B.A. in urban planning from the University of Washington in 1973.
In 1960, Vera married Joey Ing, an architect. They had three children, JaDeane, Joel, and Jeffrey. She is also survived by her four grandchildren.
Vera worked for the Seattle Housing Authority in the mid-1970s. Later, she was a legislative assistant to Seattle City Councilman Tim Hill, and then worked for the Department of Social and Health Services. She was an urban planner with Ing & Associates, where she developed 10-year master plans for both Everett and South Seattle community colleges, as well as plans for an expanded International District. As a member of Washington state trade missions, she traveled with Gov. Gary Locke to China, with Secretary of State Ralph Munro to Taiwan, and with Washington state representative Velma Veloria to the Philippines. From 1999 to 2007, she served as the commissioner of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
“Vera was always so caring and supportive of others, from working on community causes like the Kin On Nursing Home to helping political candidates,” said U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke. “She was always hosting fundraisers at her house because she wanted candidates she supported to learn the issues of the Asian American community and not to take our community for granted.
“Ver loved bringing people together at her beautiful home to have a good time,” Ambassador Locke added, “especially during Seafair to watch the Blue Angels fly over or to watch the hydroplane races.”
Vera was involved in ensuring the International District would maintain its historic identity, while expanding its reach to new groups, including South and Southeast Asians.
“Vera was very supportive of the International District, and I enjoyed working with her all these years,” said Tomio Moriguchi, CEO of Uwajimaya. “She has a wonderful family. She had a vision for the International District. I wish we had more people with that type of vision.”
“Vera served on the nonprofit InterIm board for many years and was president of the board for 10 years,” said community activist Bob Santos. “During her tenure, InterIm worked with Asian activists to start the International Community Health Clinic, wrote the charter for the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority, built the Danny Woo Community Garden, and built and renovated many buildings in the International District neighborhood to house low-income seniors.
“She was a fierce but compassionate woman warrior,” he added.
Vera’s commitment to community touched and influenced many people, and she was particularly interested in helping the younger generation to be more involved, whether it was acting as a mentor, getting involved with their causes, or introducing them to others.
Vera was a past president of the North Seattle Community College Foundation Board, past president of the Mt. Baker Neighborhood Community Club, past president of the Seattle International District Rotary Club, past president of InterIm, vice president of Wing Luke Museum, and chair of the Bumbershoot Advisory Committee. She also served on the University of Washington’s Women’s Center Advisory Committee, Seattle Center Advisory Commission, Women Plus Business Advisory Committee, and Asian Americans for Political Action Committee.
Vera was also a staunch supporter of the arts. She owned an art gallery in Pioneer Square in the early 1970s, hosted and emceed the American/China exhibit at the World’s Fair in Spokane, coordinated the first Asian American art exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum, was a member of the Goodwill Games art festival committee, and established the Prima Vera Arts Center for the Performing Arts — home to the Pork-Filled Players and Repertory Actors Theatre.
Among Vera’s many honors and awards are the University of Washington’s Multicultural Alumni Partnership (MAP) – Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2011, Asian/Pacific Islander Community Foundation: Kip Tokuda Leadership Award in 2011, Northwest Asian Weekly: Top Contributor to the Asian Community Award in 2010, InterIm Pioneer Award in 2004, the North Seattle Community College’s first Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award in 2002, and many others.
“Vera had incredible energy and drive and was so much fun!” said Mona Locke, wife of U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke. “She will always be remembered for her work on preserving and documenting the Asian American and especially the Chinese American experience in the Seattle area. She was a leader and role model to us all.”
Vera was also a columnist for five years in the 1990s with Seattle’s Northwest Asian Weekly and Chinatown News in Vancouver, B.C. In 2010, she published her autobiography, “Dim Sum: The Seattle ABC (American Born Chinese) Dream.”
A viewing is scheduled for 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, at Blaine Memorial Church, located at 3001 24th Ave. S., Seattle (on Beacon Hill, a few blocks west of the Mt. Baker light rail station). The family will hold a private burial on Friday.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the North Seattle Community College gym on Saturday, Feb. 1, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The address is 9600 College Way North, Seattle.
“Anyone who knows Vera and Joey realize there are few others who are as dynamic and supportive as they have been over the past few decades,” said her family. “They have opened up their home for hundreds of community and political events. They have supported every cause imaginable with special emphasis on those serving communities of color.” (end)
Sue Misao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.