By Bettie Luke and Ron Chew
Marguerite “Marge” Luke Young and Maxine Loo were best friends for 67 years. The two met when they were assigned adjacent lockers at Washington Junior High School. Marguerite was born on Sept. 13, 1940 and passed away Dec. 19, 2019. Maxine was born on May 14, 1940 and passed away on Feb. 10, 2020.
Both Marge and Maxine will be deeply missed by countless friends and associates in the Asian Pacific American and nonprofit communities.
As adults, their jobs took different paths, but they remained dear friends, sharing many community activities together. Both were enthusiastic supporters of the Wing Luke Museum, Jade Guild Chinese Women’s Club, International Community Health Services (ICHS), and the Seattle Chapter of the OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates.
Wing Luke Museum Director Beth Takekawa remarked, “I will light a candle for Maxine, and for Marge. I sure will miss Maxine walking through the museum with her twinkling eyes.”
Tagoipah Mathno, ICHS Foundation development coordinator, said, “Maxine Loo was the first major donor that I met and connected with. I was excited when I found out she used to work at Franklin High School, my alma mater. She was so kind and welcoming.”
Those who knew Marge remember her sweet smile and gentle demeanor. Behind that appearance was a fierce resolve to take care of her family and work. Marge was widowed with four children between the ages of 4 and 14—John, Joseph, James, and Jade. Initially without a job, Marge threw her energies into volunteering and PTSA work. This was hard. At one point, her children attended four different schools.
Marge later worked at the University of Washington’s Department of Medicine as a medical technologist, researching pediatric immunology.
Upon retirement, Marge volunteered for 10 years in elementary schools, teaching in the Great Composers Program. Classical music caught her attention because her brother Wing Luke chose her name from an opera by Faust. Marge also served for 10 years as corresponding secretary for Jade Guild Chinese Women’s Club and as “official/unofficial historian/photographer” of Jade guild events.
Entering Catholicism as an adult, Marge became active at St John’s Parrish on Phinney Ridge. Close friend Lynn Gough remarked, “Early on she became a Eucharistic minister at the 8:30 Sunday morning Mass. She was quick to volunteer for our church activities, an environment worker, and she participated in the jail ministry. “
Marge and her son John had the opportunity to travel. Spain was their favorite destination. They also took part in organizing a tour of China to visit her father’s house in the Luke Family village in 2013. John recalled that Maxine went with them on the trip to China.
“The Loo village is only about 30 miles away from the Luke village as the crow flies,” he said. “I suppose their spirits were always meant to be close together.”
Like Marge, Maxine Loo also had a sweet smile and cheery disposition. She was proud of her humble Chinatown roots. Her family’s pumpkin-colored house, one of the few single family residences still standing in the International District, sits on the corner of King Street South and 12th Avenue South.
Her father and uncle owned the Quong Wah Company, a live poultry shop on King Street next to Tai Tung Restaurant. Maxine worked there as a child. She attended Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, Washington Junior High, and Garfield High School.
After graduation, Maxine taught English as a Second Language in Central Area schools like Franklin High. She enjoyed supporting charities for low-income immigrants and refugees. Like Marge, Maxine also led tours of The Wing Luke Museum and spoke to students about Wing Luke.
“I don’t know anybody that loved life more than my aunt Maxine,” said Teresa Loo, Maxine’s niece.
“I remember her traveling the world, making the most of everything. It wasn’t until she became ill and I started taking her to doctor’s visits that I began to realize how full her life was. She didn’t let anything stop her.”
“Our family has a tradition of getting together in Long Beach, Washington. This past year, Maxine had just turned 70. It was August. Several of us said, ‘Hey Maxine, some of us want to take you surfing.’ There was a wager on whether she would do it. She didn’t even flinch. She got in a wetsuit. It was so much fun. The surf instructor said she was oldest student he had ever taught.”
A graveside service will be held on Feb. 22 from 10:30–11:30 a.m. at the Lake View Cemetery (1554 15th Ave E, Seattle) for Loo. She is survived by her brothers, Sheldon, Wilbur, and Jerry.
Bettie Luke is the younger sister of Marge Young. Ron Chew is director of the ICHS Foundation.