Obituary of Evelyn Sook-Yi Huang
EVELYN SOOK-YI HUANG (NEE LAU)
Evelyn Huang died at 11:42 p.m. on May 2, 2021. She passed peacefully, with her four children by her side, after a long life of 81 years filled with courage, love, laughter, glamour, good food, and adventure upon adventure. She leaves behind three daughters, Fiona (Luca), Anita, Jennifer (Oscar), one son, Gregory (Leslie), seven grandchildren, Liam, Gemma, Lida, Clara, Thomas, Ella, Marley, and one canine grandchild, Mia, as well as two sisters, Anna and Lana, and five nieces and nephews.
Evelyn was born in Hong Kong on December 27, 1939. She grew up in a large home overlooking the Happy Valley racetrack with her parents Sau-Lin and Yim-Kwong, three sisters, and a brother. She remembered her childhood fondly, often telling stories about extravagant family gatherings, including recalling ones with her cousins at the beach and during which she indulged in seafood feasts on a restaurant boat. She was a top student at Hong Kong University, where she met her beloved husband Michael. Married in Ealing Abbey, she and Michael lived in London for several years before immigrating to Toronto to build a life together and start a family. An accountant by profession, she was a civil servant for the Government of Canada during her early years. She continued to work while raising four young children. Endowed with a charitable heart, she eventually decided to quit her job to focus her energies on making an impact in the world of arts, culture, and politics. She was a patron of the arts, supporting the National Ballet of Canada, Canadian Opera Company, Ontario Film Review Board, and the nascent Toronto Film Festival - sitting on boards and steering numerous fundraisers. She was passionate about bringing visibility to the Chinese Canadian community and pushed many boundaries to elevate the image of Chinese culture in mainstream Canadian society, including cofounding The Mandarin Club in Toronto’s Chinatown. Her proudest achievements include authoring two books, Chinese Canadians: Voices from a Community (1992) and Hong Kong: Portraits of Power (1996).
While highly accomplished, what Evelyn was most well known and loved for is her generosity of spirit, exquisite taste, and warm personality. Her charisma touched many, reaching far beyond her family and immediate circle of friends. She took countless under her wing, truly embracing people for themselves and exhibiting a genuine curiosity and interest in their life stories. Evelyn was the consummate hostess. Those who attended her grand parties, hosted in her spectacular art deco home, remember them as legendary. All who knew her were struck by her unforgettable beauty and uniquely fashionable outfits, which included dresses she sewed on her own as a young woman, as well as a collection of fur coats, Issey Miyake pieces and ball gowns she designed herself. Above all else, Evelyn was fiercely devoted to her family and cherished spending time with them. In the golden years of her life, she left her home in Toronto and lived all over the globe, Shanghai, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Vancouver, with the sole purpose of being near her children, grandchildren and siblings. Her enjoyment of life was insatiable, eating well, dressing up, going to the opera, and travelling extensively, often inviting various companions to experience her wild five-star overseas adventures with her. She was committed to collecting her children and grandchildren around her for fabulous vacations and celebrations, creating precious memories that will be cherished forever.
The eternal matriarch, she reunited her four children across borders, during a pandemic, to embark on her final and epic journey together. She fought a heroic battle during the last three months of her life in Toronto Western Hospital, where she received incredible medical care from Dr. Nielson, Molly, and the 5A team. Her final moments were spent immersed in love and compassion and peace at the Loretta Anne Rogers Critical Care Centre at Toronto Western. Her family will be forever grateful to the medical team for giving us that time with her. A virtual memorial service will be held on May 7th at 1:00 p.m. EST. Details can be found at www.humphreymiles.com. The family asks those who want to express sympathy and pay tribute to her life to make a charitable donation to the Evelyn Huang Memorial Fund at http://support.tgwhf.ca/goto/evelynhuang, which was established to support frontline workers at Toronto Western during this COVID-19 pandemic. Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.
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