Rita Patricia Quejong Chan, 86, passed away in Sugar Land on January 20, 2010. Her father’s family was one of the earliest Cantonese families to settle in Manila. Her mother was the daughter of a wealthy businessman in China who ruined her chance for a good marriage by indulgingly letting her leave her feet unbound. She arrived in Manila with two maidservants as part of her dowry only to discover her intended husband was not a rich merchant, as touted by the matchmaker, but a bartender at the Manila Elks Club. Nevertheless, her husband turned out to be a kind, quiet man of integrity, and they formed a household marked by civility, where voices were never raised. Rita was the youngest of their eight children, who were all homeschooled to save money until they were ready to enter fourth grade. Like her other siblings, Rita excelled in math and always ranked at the top of her class.
Although Rita’s husband Ming was also born in the Philippines, he was sent to China for his education and did not return until he was a teenager. Their marriage, between an introvert and a flamboyant extrovert, proved not only that opposites attract but that the combination sometimes works. Thrown into a clan full of dominating personalities, Rita quietly made more than her share of contributions. In addition to being a helpmate and adviser to her husband, she held a job in advertising and later as a teacher even as she raised five children. She returned to college when she was nearly forty and eventually earned a master degree in education. After they immigrated to the United States in 1976, she was hired by the Boston School System as bilingual teacher, a job she held until her retirement. Rita and Ming moved in 1998 to Houston where they, along with two of their children and other relatives, replicated the life to which they were accustomed in Manila, in which good food and mahjong were major focal points. They accepted Christ as their personal savior at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
After more than four years of dialysis, Rita passed away peacefully at home. She is survived by her husband Mariano Sui-Ming Chan, daughter Susan and her husband Ron Egan (California), daughter Margaret (North Carolina), son Lumen and his wife Ana N. Chan (Texas), daughter Mary Ann and her husband Mario Lee (Texas), son Marciano and his wife Sabine Bornholdt Chan (California), as well as an “adopted” American daughter, Catherine Abbott Carrillo, who used to be a colleague of Ming in Boston. They have eight grand children: Louisa Chan Egan, Leonard, Andrew, and Ann Margaret Chan; and Mark, Michael, Marlon, and Matthew Lee. Rita lived to see a great-grandson, Ethan Lee, son of Mark and Julia.
There was a family gathering to celebrate Rita’s life on January 22.