Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Memory of Warren Chin-Lee (1954-2011)

In memory of my brother, Warren Chin-Lee

Eulogy given at George Washington Cemetery (Adelphi, MD) on June 24, 2011

First, thank you to the extended family and friends, who have come today. Thank you for your support.

My friend Carolyn Miles used to refer to Warren as a teddy bear. He was a very lovable person: warm, generous, caring. He always would listen to you with understanding and kindness. I remember that especially when I was going through my divorce and began dating again. He was always willing to listen to me as I was going through a difficult time.

Since I live in California and come home to DC once or twice a year, Warren was also my airport pick-up service. A few weeks ago when I came home for Memorial Day weekend, I asked him to take me to Washington Reagan airport and he said to me, “Cyndi, I’ll pick you up or take you to the airport any time as long as I am not working.”

Warren was a patient person. He taught me how to drive a car and even how to parallel park which is quite a feat! Of course, the man whose Mercedes I hit last year may not be so appreciative that Warren taught me to drive.

Some of you might not know that much about him so let me give you some background.

Our parents are Nancy and William Chin-Lee. My mother was born in Baltimore, MD and my father was born in DC, a few blocks from the White House. Our grandparents are from Toishan county in Guangdong province, China. Warren was the 3rd of five children: Bruce is the oldest, now from La Jolla, CA. His wife Devin normally would be with him but her father died recently and she needed to be with her family. Sandra is the next in line; her husband is Philip Hays and their sons are Zachary and Peter. Zacharys’ wife is Rachael and they all came from Washington state.

Warren is the third. He and his wife Deede have two sons, Wren and Douglass. Deede could not be here because she had emergency surgery this week due to her epilepsy and she is in surgery again today. Wren (Warren Christopher) and his wife Crystal live at Ft Belvoir, VA, with their daughter Logan. Douglass who is an English teacher in China came from Shanghai to be with us. Deede’s sister, Lisa Chan, flew in from LA to be with us as well.

Next Peter and his wife Eleanor live in Silver Spring. They have three children, Alex, Michael and Michelle.

I’m the youngest, Cynthia, from northern California. Unfortunately my husband, Peter Ching and my son, Joshua could not be here. Joshua recently had surgery and is still recuperating. My daughter Vanessa is in Paris finishing college and also could not be here.

Warren grew up in Washington, DC and attended Murch Elementary, Deal Jr. High, and Woodrow Wilson High School. As a kid, he enjoyed games like Risk and poker. In high school he liked making movies. He attended George Washington University and graduated with a degree in Business. He met Deede Chan and they married and then Warren attended Cornell to get his MBA. They also had Wren then. After graduating from Cornell, Warren worked for several firms including Rockwell International in Michigan and then several banks in the DC metro area where he was a credit officer and supervised computer conversions.

Five years after Wren, Deede and Warren had Douglass.

Warren eventually worked for the family business as general manager of the Best Western- Capitol Hill. When the Best Western was sold, Warren worked for Captel, a telephone and social media fundraising firm that works with political action committees and non-profits.

Warren was fiercely loyal to his wife and family and very responsible. He sent Wren and Douglass to private schools and worked hard to make sure they had the best education possible.

Warren was fun-loving, too. He had a great collection of comic books and movies. He loved old movies, musicals and comedies in particular like Fred Astaire/ Ginger Roger movies and Topper. He also loved sharing this passion with us and we often received DVDs or books as presents for Christmas.

He also liked comic books and was looking forward to the Green Lantern movie. Lisa Chan told me his secret wish was to own a comic book store.

From others:

Sheila Pipich
Warren was the best co-work I ever had, he would not only hear but was a good listener. God allows people into our lives some for a season and some a lifetime. I thank God I was able to share part of that life with Warren.

David Lee Hawks

I am David Hawks, a classmate and friend of Doug's. Doug's father was kind and welcoming to all of Doug's friends. It seemed he almost always had a friendly, almost conspiratorial smile on his face when he laughed and joked with us.

It was clear to us that Warren Chin-Lee was a very loving, caring family man; the love he had for his wife, sons, and family wasn't the kind that one had to look carefully for, because it was out in the open for all to see.

The last words I heard from him was an email to Doug and me:

"Good luck and stay safe."