Honoring Long-Time Community Leaderby Representative Judy Chu
Posted on 2013-01-29
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Ms. CHU. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a great loss to our
community, Mr. Wilbur Kuotung Woo, who passed away on November 12, 2012
at the age of 96. My heart goes out to his wife of 74 years, Beth; his
five children; his six grandchildren; his seven great-grandchildren;
and the rest of his family and friends.
I had the great pleasure of knowing Mr. Woo. He was an extraordinary citizen, a role model for community activism and a tireless advocate for the Chinese American community.
Mr. Woo's life stands as a living testament to the American Dream. He was born in China in 1915 and immigrated to the United States at age 5. He went on to study at UCLA and graduated with a degree in business administration. Mr. Woo then went to work at his family's business, the Chungking Produce Company, where he would often begin work around midnight in order to prepare for a full day at the produce market.
In 1962, Mr. Woo became Vice President of Cathay Bank during a time when many local banks refused to lend to Chinese Americans. Thanks in part to his leadership and incredible business acumen, Cathay Bank would go on to become one of the largest independent financial institutions in Los Angeles County.
Mr. Woo also served his community as chairman of the board at The Chinese Times, president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and founder of the California-Taiwan Trade & Investment Council.
Mr. Woo was known as a bridge between the halls of power in Washington, DC and the underserved Chinese American community. As President of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, he lobbied for a shift in U.S. immigration policy and met with Senators Hiram Fong and Edward Kennedy. Woo would see his dream accomplished in 1965, when the United States finally lifted legal barriers limiting immigration from China and Taiwan. This historic act would open the doors for a new wave of immigrants and greatly contribute to our nation's cultural fabric.
I urge all my House colleagues to join me in honoring our community hero, Mr. Wilbur K. Woo, for his remarkable service, indomitable spirit and contributions to his community and to our nation.