June 1, 1946 — March 23, 2022
Robert Lai-Sang Chan passed away in Burlingame, California, on March 23, 2022, after a long battle with dementia. He was 75.
While the prior 10 years had been a challenge for him since the passing of his wife, June, he steadily defended his independence until his declining health and self-sufficiency necessitated the support of an assisted living home.
The onset of Covid-19 in 2020 was an unfortunate inflection point in his journey, as the loss of social contact and the regular interactions he had with his family and friends proved precipitously deleterious to his overall well-being. Much of the spark that defined his personality was dimmed by the time he passed, but thankfully his was a relatively peaceful and painless transition.
Born in Chiuchow, China, in 1946, he was the eldest child of Chan Ho-Bun and Wong Sim-Fung. Life was hard for many families in China at that time, and theirs was no exception. He and his family left Chiuchow by boat to escape the Communist Revolution, settling in Hong Kong where his other three siblings were born.
He traveled to the US to pursue higher education and was forced to take many different jobs to survive and pay for his schooling. After bouncing between lifestyles (school: studying chemistry and microbiology and work: in various restaurants and labs to make ends meet) and locations (California and Missouri), he met June while she was studying at Washington University in St. Louis.
There he wooed her insistently despite her insatiable wanderlust that saw their relationship bridge the Pacific as she studied abroad in Japan. Married in Hong Kong in 1975, they soon had baby Lucien in 1977 before she was even finished with graduate school.
They relocated from St. Louis to Fairfield, California, as he took a job at BioRad in the Bay Area. They settled in and had Greg and Aaron in 1979 and 1981, establishing roots in the community via Fairfield Presbyterian Church, the boys’ homeschooling networks (a Herculean undertaking only made possible with full buy-in from both parents), and further outlets that fed his diversity of interests, including the local symphony and Rotary Club.
Fueled by his voracious love of reading periodicals and nonfiction, Bob was never timid in sharing his opinions on any topic from politics to stocks to science.
When June’s health started deteriorating with an unfortunate onset of aggressive rheumatoid arthritis in the ’90s, he supported and cared for her with unwavering commitment even as he built up a new career chapter focused on sales and marketing of over-the-counter products like Tiger Balm. He soldiered on with commendable professional success all the way to retirement and the very end of June’s life for her in 2012.
June’s death dealt an unalterable blow to Bob and he struggled to shift to a self-sustaining life as a widower – though he certainly enjoyed being a part of the early lives of his four grandsons.
He will always be remembered as a fierce and passionate independent, dedicated son, brother, husband, father, perpetual home auto mechanic, master of hyperbole and salesmanship, fixer of computers, defender of the almighty credential, and proud father of the boys he loved to brag about.
He is survived by his sons, Lucien, Greg, and Aaron; daughters-in-law, Joanna, Ning and Ladan; grandsons, Greyson, Karsten, Gabriel and Gavin; brother, Eddie; and sisters, Fannie and Phoebe.
A memorial service will be held at 11 am Monday, April 18, 2022, at Rockville Presbyterian Fellowship, 4177 Suisun Valley Road, Fairfield, California. A reception will follow. He will be buried alongside June, in the Rockville Cemetery.
For those who would like to make a donation in his name, the family recommends considering the Dementia Society of America or the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, an organization he valued greatly during and after the years when he sat on the board.
Arrangements under the care of Alta Vista Cremation & Funeral Services, 707-421-0100.