Obituary: Chih-Yi Wang founded Chinese culture group in Sacramento

07/06/2012 12:00 AM

07/10/2012 10:02 AM

Chih-Yi Wang, an immigrant who founded a leading community group to promote Chinese culture in the Sacramento region, died Saturday of kidney failure, his family said. He was 90.

Mr. Wang settled in the the United States in 1966 to study accounting after a military career in Taiwan. He moved to Sacramento in 1970, spent 14 years as an accountant for the city of Roseville and invested in property deals.

In 1986, he put up $10,000 in seed money to establish the Sacramento Chinese Culture Foundation, one of the first nonprofit groups in the region to promote Chinese culture, history and language. He chose charter board members and led efforts to include Chinese in language classes in San Juan and Sacramento City schools.

Private and unassuming, he turned over the operation to the board after serving as the first president.

With support from corporate donors, the foundation has grown to support educational programs, scholarship funds and cultural exchange programs with premier Chinese arts groups. In 2001, the group published "150 Years of Chinese Presence in California."

"Mr. Wang was one of the few individuals who really cared enough back then to keep Chinese culture and history going overseas – especially with the big number of Chinese immigrants who moved to California," former foundation board member Vicki Beaton said.

Born June 11, 1922, in Hunan province in China, Mr. Wang studied accounting and took a position with Overseas Chinese Bank Corp. He joined the army and rose from platoon leader to armored division battalion commander and served as a high-level liaison officer in the Taiwan Defense Ministry.

After retiring from the military, he immigrated to the United States and eventually became a naturalized citizen. He earned a master's degree in accounting from State University of New York at Binghamton and worked at a state prison in Lake Butler, Fla., before moving to California.

Mr. Wang was predeceased by his son Ken Wang. Survivors include his wife, Pi-Chun Wang of Sacramento; son, James Wang of Minneapolis; stepdaughters, Julia Gattoni of Northville, Mich., and Dori Liang of Alameda; and 11 grandchildren.

Visitation is at noon today, followed by a service at 2 p.m. today, at East Lawn Mortuary, 5757 Greenback Lane, Sacramento. Memorial donations may be made to the Sacramento Chinese Culture Foundation, P.O. Box 160841, Sacramento, CA 95816.


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