Obituary of Dr. Seong Ling Ko
Dr. Seong Ling Ko (nee Wong) passed peacefully at home surrounded by her loving family on Monday, February 8, 2021. She shared 82 years of love and laughter with everyone she met. Friends and relatives may visit on Saturday, February 13th from 2-4 pm at the Norman Dean Home For Services, 16 Righter Ave, Denville. A Service of Memories will begin at 4 o’clock. Please share your memories here. Her family will cherish them forever.
Seong Ling was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1938 (technically in 1936..long story but we won’t get into that right now). She was one of three daughters, immensely adored by her father Gawgay Wong and mother Trinh Ta, despite being born at a time when families favored only sons. Her early years were filled with tribulations especially the death of her father after a bomb was dropped on his Company during the War. Nevertheless, she was able to cherish her favorite memory of times retreating for safety to a small wooden boat on a nearby river in the middle of the night with her father, mother, and little sister. There they would sing songs to their parents under the moonlight reflecting on the water. In her late teens, against her mother’s wishes, she made and paid for her own way to China to study medicine and help people. She was a trailblazer determined to do great good. She studied intensely to be the best she could be, telling us stories of how she would secretly read her medical books under her blankets with a flashlight after curfew at her University. She soon became what we know historically as a "Barefoot Doctor" and then later working in a psychiatric hospital. There she had the unfortunate experience of being almost beaten to death by a patient. For two years, she was bedridden and medically supervised. Thankfully, her incredible will and strength paved the way to recovery and an opportunity to continue her medical work that she was so passionate about.
In the mid 1970s she embarked on the next venture. Now married with 2 young daughters, she was determined to give the family an opportunity to live the American Dream. She and her husband Mau-Hon Chan, packed up their young family and a suitcase and fled to the United States eventually settling in New Jersey. Seong Ling worked hard, three jobs at times, to give her family a beautiful life. The couple also received a lot of support from Mau-Hon's brothers for which Seong Ling was eternally grateful. She emphasized the importance of health. “Without your health, you have nothing, as all the money is useless''. She was fortunate enough to continue to help patients in a clinic in Dover, NJ using her training in Neurology/Psychiatry and most importantly - Acupuncture. She was amongst the earliest practitioners to receive an Acupuncture license in the United States. “Dr. Wong” was well admired, respected and loved.
In 1996 she remarried Suvit Ko, a chemical scientist. She loved his brilliant mind, good heart and enjoyed many beautiful years together. He loved to travel; she loved her home. Suvit, the introvert, Mom, the extrovert. It was funny to see how they clashed together yet loved each other so deeply. With Suvit, came another son, Andy and daughter, Cindy and the family grew.
Seong Ling was a doer and didn’t waste time. In her 70s, she embarked on a life-long wish to learn to play the piano. She often remarked in Cantonese “Grasp Tight Time” as she valued time and didn't want us to waste it. Seong Ling has always enjoyed learning and always “had to read her newspaper” (that she took with her everywhere she went) to soak up new and interesting facts and information. Her favorite topics included health, exercise, and nutrition. She enjoyed sharing and imparting her knowledge and “lessons” with her family (that we just yes’d her on but appreciate now). She loved people and had quite the ability to keep up with all her relationships by snail mail and landline phone. (She said that she would learn how to use her Iphone and computer in her next life). She called and corresponded often and if you knew her, you knew you were deeply loved by her.
She absolutely loved music (visible by the 100s of self-recorded cassette tapes you will find in her house and yes she still has a cassette player!). She enjoyed dancing and had no reservations about being the first on the dance floor. She loved playing ping pong with her friends. Seong Ling enjoyed keeping her house “just so”. Her home was always organized and “Clean!” and ever so welcoming. She took great pride in caring for herself and her home. Above all, she loved being with her family. She was so proud and adored her grandchildren Claire, Becky, Ryan, and Kyle as much as they adored their “Paw Paw.” Although we are broken-hearted, we know her love and her light will shine down on us always.
She leaves ever happy memories and smiles to her super long list of family and dear friends from around the World as evident by the hundreds of cards and phone calls received at home ranging from Hong Kong, Toronto, Japan, Malaysia and throughout the US from Florida to California.
As she joins her father, mother, and older sister in heaven, she leaves behind ever joyful memories, and inspiration, to her husband Suvit; special little sister Eileen Wong; her children Lilie Donahue (Robert), and Shu-Mei Chan; stepchildren Andy Ko and Cindy Ho (John); and her beloved grandchildren Claire, Becky, Ryan and Kyle. Yes Mom- I know I know...I should wear my coat so that I don’t catch a cold says Lilie. Mimie (Shu-Mei) was inspired by Mom to embark on her 2nd career in Acupuncture and to continue Mom’s legacy of helping people heal and get healthy.
Lilie has set up a zoom meeting for a few family/friends as requested. However, a recording will be available after the Memorial, below.
For those who have difficulty reaching a family member, feel free to contact Lilie and she will try her best to pass on the message. Call/Text (973)441-9127.
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