By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
The oldest noodle factory in Washington state, Tsue Chong Co. will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. It produces 80,000 fortune cookies a day.
Yet, none of the millions of fortunes in these cookies could predict that the past three generations of owners have lived and continue to live long lives.
What kind of lifestyle does the 90-year-old CEO Henry Louie practice? What are his special secrets when it comes to longevity?
The business has now progressed to the 4th generation; and his son Tim, is the president.
Born in New York, Louie can speak Cantonese, Toishanese and Mandarin (and of course, English). It’s interesting to see how he shifts between the dialects when he speaks to employees and his wife, when most seniors lose their language abilities. So goes the saying, “…if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Louie, though semi-retired, still spends at least three or four hours each day at the factory.
He wears no glasses, needs no walker, and greets 40 of his employees with a smile and knows their names. He told the Asian Weekly that he is needed to solve problems on machines and human affairs. With his degree in industrial engineering, he knows everything about the machines in his plant—the mechanics, production quantity, and quality. That involves running around the factory, upstairs, and downstairs through an elevator. He has found his purpose.
“I want him to feel needed,” said Tim who has taken over the business. “I want him to come here every day.”
Louie has his own office at the factory with stacks of books, papers, and photos lying around.
He was responsible for expanding the products to 17 different kinds of noodles and building a new factory with his deceased brother Kenneth.
Aside from giving advice whenever he is asked, Louie also wraps wonton skin and folds boxes a day for the noodles. Seniors using their fingers often, have less problems in arthritis and rheumatism, and could also stimulate their brain. When interviewed, there were already dozens of boxes.
Louie said he practices his Chinese calligraphy in his spare time. The fact is, he doesn’t only do it in his free time. He practices it almost every day.
When he was four, Louie went back to China with his family to escape the depression. During the Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s, he and his family returned to Seattle.
What keeps Louie joyful and peaceful is his religion, he told the Asian Weekly. Tim confirms his father’s ardent faith as a Christian. For 53 years, Louie has been a member of the University Presbyterian Church. He enjoys group meetings with church members. “We like to share, inspire, and encourage each other,” Louie said.
When asked about the secrets of longevity, Louie said, being “low-key and humble” are key factors. “I don’t like publicity. I like spending time in churches. We need spiritual nourishment and engagement so we can feel at peace. And I feel fortunate in my life.”
Louie also eats little meat and more veggies in his diet. “I am very careful with what I eat. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I am comfortable without having them.”
His favorite activity is to spend time on the computer every night, surfing the Internet, not to play games, but to learn.
“There are so much new things to learn and many interesting ideas,” Louie said. “Internet is an encyclopedia.”
Every day, he exercises for one hour to strengthen his heart muscles since he had major heart surgery before. And he walks a lot to breath fresh air in the morning.
The other tip for longevity is regular check-ups. “I have three doctors, family, heart, and eye. Anything I don’t feel right, I don’t wait. I see my doctor right away.”
Louie’s grandfather died when he was 85.
“Let’s see if he (dad) can beat his own dad who lived till 97,” said Tim. “He already beat his mom (who died at the age of 85).” (end)
Assunta Ng can be reached at email@example.com.