By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Local developer James Koh has died. He was 93 years old.
A devoted Buddhist and former Boeing engineer, Koh died of complications from a stroke on July 6.
Born and raised in Guangdong, China, Koh was Chiuchou. He earned his bachelor’s degree from National Taiwan University.
After arriving in the United States in 1952, he got his master’s degree from the University of Washington (UW), and his PhD from the University of Minnesota.
Koh bought and developed three buildings in Seattle’s Chinatown starting in 2003: the old Hong Kong restaurant building, the Alps Hotel, and the Milwaukee Hotel in which he donated space to a Buddhist charity group.
His daughter, Barbara, told the Northwest Asian Weekly that her dad enjoyed watching Chinese TV dramas, studying Buddhism, exercising, and “family togetherness”—as he liked to call it.
He liked to share his wealth with the community. Koh was a founding donor of Kin On. He and his wife, Maria, donated money to the Seattle Public Library—there are sections of the library’s downtown and International District locations named after Koh’s mother-in-law.
Koh and his wife established the Koh Lee Foundation in 1998. They have also been strong supporters of the UW. They established the James Chao-Yao and Maria Lee Endowed Fellowship in the School of Engineering.
James Koh is survived by his wife, a brother, two daughters and two sons, and seven grandchildren.
Memorial services are pending.