Maurice Soong

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Maurice Soong

Maurice Soong

At an early age, Maurice was taught the value of respect, honesty and kindness as well as the importance of strong family bonds. He was always proud of his Chinese culture and so it is befitting to reflect on what Confucius said more than two thousand years ago; “Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.” Maurice was a visionary and he understood that he had the power to shape his own destiny through determination and hard work. On the road to success, he made many sacrifices but his family never took a backseat and he never compromised on integrity. He never forgot anyone who helped him along the way and he paid it forward like no other man we have ever known. He was loved and respected by many but WE were the few who were privileged to have him as husband, dad, and papa!
  • Born in Long Guan, Shenzhen, China on August 17, 1935
  • Passed away in San Fernando, Trinidad
    on February 05, 2014
  • Married on February 22, 1958 to Brenda Law
  • Loving Father of Anna (John Johnston), Johnny, Debbie (Frank Fazzalari), Patsy (Gary Bouchard)
  • Dearest Papa of Amanda, Kasi, Matthew, Kennedy, Kiana, Miles, and Madison

Maurice Soong

National Award of Trinidad and Tobago
National Award of Trinidad and TobagoHummingbird Gold Medal 2014

Shaking hands with Mr. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China. Smiling is Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Wedding Day

True love that lasted for 55 years of marriage.

TrulyApart of my heart

In October 1948, with $20 US in his pocket, Maurice was the only passenger from the Soong Village to board the S.S. President Wilson (American President Lines). This young boy was lucky to be in the company of 6 others that he knew, but he most fondly spoke of Tony Yee’s grandfather who he followed everywhere and whose bunk bed was next to his. This passenger ship with express service to/from the Orient and the United States was built in 1948 and was 18,962 gross tons. In the 20 days of sea travel from Hong Kong to San Francisco, Maurice’s favourite memory on the ship was eating hot dogs and sausages for the first time. He also enjoyed playing on the small slot machine in the parlour. His lifelong dislike for chocolate arose from drinking hot chocolate on rough seas and getting sick. After his ocean adventure, he had to endure another 2 days of air travel on PanAm two-propellor planes, making many stops and layovers from San Francisco to Trinidad. Maurice’s initial feeling was one of disappointment when he saw all the cane fields and little wooden houses in Trinidad because he thought there would be big buildings and neon lights. Despite the initial shock of his new homeland and reconnecting with a father he had not seen since he was 2-3 years old, he knew that he had to be strong and do his best. With teary eyes, he had left his mother in China, not knowing when or if he would see her again, but her words were “Go son, there must be a better future there!” He continued to work hard all his life, he showed the utmost respect for others and he remained humble, always remembering where he came from and never forgetting who helped him along the way. With very little formal education, Maurice built his life in Trinidad with his strong work ethics and his determination to provide a good life for his wife, Brenda Law and his children. Not only did he build a comfortable home for his family, he filled it with love. He also opened many successful restaurants that paved the path for his biggest pride and joy at the base of the San Fernando Hill, “Soong’s Great Wall”. Even though he spent his later years traveling between Canada and Trinidad, he never got used to the long, cold winters and he missed the friendliness and warmth of the Caribbean people. He continued to say, “I love Trinidad! I love Trinidad!” up to the very end of his life. This young Chinese boy who boarded that ship 65 years earlier had truly found where he belonged, his beloved island paradise on earth, Trinidad!

  • Genuine
  • Loving
  • Generous
You should have stayed back a few more years with me. When I was a young school girl, I used to say, if I marry a husband who gave me Coca Cola and biscuits, I’d be satisfed … and I married him. I married a gentleman … nice, kind, hardworking! He took care of our children. He loved our children. We had a good time in the casino and all our trips were good but I remember when we went to Hong Kong the last time. I am missing him so much!
My father was a humble man, who often walked with kings, but never lost the common touch. He was born in China in 1935, Grandma and Grandpa’s first boy, of five children. He always professed his love for his parents, especially his mother. He would speak glowingly of his mother, with tears welling up in his eyes. She worked the rice fields to provide for her children. She would sacrifice her food rations so that he wouldn’t starve. Some of the last words I have heard my father say were mom, mom, my mother. I am comforted to know that his loving mom, my apo was there to guide him when God called him home. Our father was a devoted husband married to my mom for 55 years. My mom said that for those 55 years of marriage, they never went to bed angry … and I said, what a smart man. A loving father to his daughters and one and only favourite son. He taught us how to love God and family. He would often remind us that when you greeted people, you not only asked how they were, the ritual also included, asking about the well-being of their fathers, mothers and children … simple things that we sometimes forget in this fast paced world we live in. But it was natural to him because my father loved people. My father sacrificed his whole life for his family, working hard to give his children the tools to succeed, like education, life long lessons and compassion for the less fortunate. He loved his family and we all know his passion was his restaurant, Soong’s Great Wall, Home of the Finest Cuisine. He was proud of his restaurant and it all started with sanitation, good food, and good service … that all started with his kitchen. His award for sanitation was one of his proudest accomplishments. His staff will tell you that he was the best boss you could ask for. He was selfless and helped many of them to open their own businesses. He was no stranger to giving. Many would consider him like a father. He not only gave instruction, but also took the time to personally mentor his team. Dad came here by boat at the age of 12. He loved his country, his country of Trinidad and Tobago. He was very grateful to its people. He was Chinese from China, but this was his home. He often said I came from nothing. This country has given me opportunities to raise a family, to have wonderful friends, to be a successful businessman. And I can say Dad you have contributed to Trinidad and Tobago, and its people. You have made meaningful contributions to bettering the lives of many. Everywhere I go, people always tell me how great a man my Dad was. You left an indelible impression, a legacy, and touched so many lives. And we will never forget that. Dad you lived an exemplary life … left us with your good name. You are a gem. You are my hero. I love you, we all love you. Go home to God and rest in peace.
– Johnny

You are truly “one in a million” and I am so humbled and honoured that God gave us his greatest gift of LOVE… YOU… to call our dad. I miss everything about you, your smile and laughter, your reassuring voice, your warm and comforting arms around us, simply your presence. Life has never been the same without you Dad and although my heart is still broken, the special love that you and mom have created will forever flow through us, your children and brightly shine through your seven amazing grand children. You have taught us love and compassion, to respect and appreciate all around us, to see the “good” in everything, so “seeing life through your eyes”, the world is indeed, a better and more beautiful place. The joy and happiness you brought to all the hearts you’ve touched, what a “special gift” to those who have crossed your path. Knowing you is loving you and as the saying goes, “Giving is receiving”. You have given so much of yourself on earth and in return, you were loved by many and still are! I love you Daddy. Thank you Heavenly Father for the gift of a wonderful Dad. Our family is richly blessed and we could not ask for more.
– Anna

You were gentle, loving, caring, and generous … and you always made me feel so special when you told everyone about how hard you laughed at the joke I told you as a child. I don’t remember the joke but the punch line was “Me brother say he love you with his whole heart and a little bit of guts!” (must be said in a Spanish accent … hahaha!) I am so happy that you had a chance to meet all your grandchildren and they grew up knowing you and experiencing first hand what a great man you are by the way you played with them and spoiled them. As you look down from heaven, you know how much we are still hurting and you know what a hard time Mom is having. The pain of losing you is greater than imaginable because you were such an important part of our lives. You have really left a mark in our hearts. Please continue to look after us, protecting us and guiding us each day. I love you with my whole heart and a little bit of guts and I will continue to see your smiling face and hear your voice in my head and in my dreams … until the chain links again.
– Debbie

They say a daughter’s first love is her daddy.  You were my knight in shining armour.  There was nothing you wouldn’t do for me, no battle you wouldn’t fight.  Your love for me and my brother and sisters was boundless. Even now, I still feel you protecting me.  Nothing bad can ever happen because your love is eternal.  The last words you ever said to me were “Don’t worry about anything. Daddy will take care of you.”  I love you daddy!
– Patsy

To the proudest Papa,
Thank you for always giving me and everyone of your grandchildren so much to look forward to.  You made us laugh with your silly faces, tickles and dance moves.  You made us know we were always loved and thought of often. Most importantly to me, you made us know that you believed in each one of us and believed we could each achieve greatness.  Your humility, kindness and generosity are inimitable, but I will strive every day to mirror your character.
Love you forever,

God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be,
So He put his arms around you and whispered, come to Me.
With tearful eyes we watched you and saw you pass away,
and although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best.

To my Papa,
Thank you for being an amazing guide in our lives. You have been the best father and grandfather a family could ask for. You encourage me to work hard, be the best that I can be, and treat others with kindness and respect. Thank you for your sacrifice and dedication to creating a beautiful life for your family. Thank you for always supporting us and encouraging us to follow our dreams. I am honoured and grateful to be your granddaughter and part of this family.
I love you so much,
(one of your 7 favourites)

Dear Papa,
I’m trying hard not to be sad, but I’m finding it really hard. At the same time though, I’m overcome with pride. I’m so proud that you are my grandfather and I have your blood in my veins. That is your blood, but it’s also mine, and nothing can change that. It can never be taken away from me, and I wear it proud because you are the most beautiful man anybody could ever know. You will always be with me and I love you. I will make you proud.
Your loving grandson,

Sometimes words cannot express what you want to say and sometimes, saying what you want to say does not have to be spoken aloud.  Kennedy chose to keep her tribute to Papa confidential.

Dearest Papa,
I will miss your dancing and your loud music and your smile as you dance with mama every special event and every New Year’s Eve party at Soong’s. I will always remember struggling to keep up with your fast paced walking anywhere we went, especially in the mall. You are the kindest man ever and without a doubt the most generous. I promise to always try to follow in your footsteps and to emulate your ways of hard work and prioritizing of family time and to always put family first and to think of others before myself. Your legacy lives on with us and you will never be forgotten.
Your baby,

Dear Papa,
It’s crazy to think that you aren’t here anymore but I know you will still be there for me but in heaven now. I understand that it was time to let you go and that you are in safe hands now. I hope God takes good care of you because you deserve it. You were an amazing papa and I’ll never forget the things you did for me. But out of everything, my favourite by far was just the amount you loved me. Not only me but everyone. You cared for everyone and that’s why you passing away put such an impact on so many people. You were such an amazing man and papa.
I love you,

Dear Papa,
You were the best!!! I miss you dearly but at least you are in a better place now. Papa, you were sweet and caring. You are one of the most loving people I have ever met. I am one the luckiest people alive to have known you as my grandfather. I love you dearly. You always knew how to make me smile. You were the only person who Kennedy wouldn’t get mad at.

I’m Frank Fazzalari, Debbie’s husband. I first met my father-in-law in 1987.
I flew in from Canada to ask Dad for his daughter’s hand in marriage. He immediately welcomed me and started a conversation about our future. Dad was able to do this, because he had so much comfort and trust in his children and their decisions, knowing that he has taught them the proper morals and values in order to live a good life. What better feeling can a father have than that! Well I’ll tell you, there is a greater feeling, it’s called LOVE. I’ll never forget, it was only a few days after meeting my father-in-law and we were at home sitting in the living room and I watched his daughter, my future wife, then in her mid 20’s sit on her father’s lap, and say: I LOVE YOU DADDY, I LOVE YOU DADDY! Love was expressed in Dad’s home. Love never took a back seat. It was never put off till tomorrow. It was given at every opportunity. Dad even voiced his love for his 3 sons-in-law. That alone says a lot about a man. I always say there are two types of people in this world, those who eat to live and those who live to eat. Dad and I shared the same passion. We didn’t talk about the weather, we talked about food. Dad’s passion for food held a comforting spot in his heart. He enjoyed cooking for all, from prep to plating. But most of all, his greatest reward came from watching everyone enjoy his cooking. Dad loved all, but the opportunity of a family holiday, when Dad could cook for all of us, was dearest to his heart. Dad always said to me, that he liked country living. He would tell me stories, like as a young boy growing up in China, there was a lake he used to swim in often, and as a result his teeth were extremely strong, dentists were amazed. As a young boy he loved to go fishing. Dad loved the slow and relaxing pace of the country living. While visiting us in Niagara, surrounded by lakes, rivers and canals, we would always spend time near peaceful serene water. Being in Niagara’s fruit belt, Dad loved to go to the local farms and pick peaches, cherries and what ever else was in season. Dad always insisted we stop by my parents for a visit. Dad would gracefully walk through my father’s garden. He loved the true organic feel of nature. My parents, my family and friends and everyone my father-in-law met, had a tremendous amount of respect for him. Dad was a soft and gentle man. Okay does everyone remember what I said, well it’s time to get back to talking about food. Dad you taught us to love deeply, to enjoy everyday but I always seem to forget, when cooking steamed fish, do I put the ginger on before or after? I know you will be there to guide me the next time. Today is the saddest day of our lives. But we all have endless memories of dad. In our homes from now on he will always be spoken of, with a smile. His grandchildren will only hear about him in the most loving regard. We are privileged to have called him our father. We love you Dad.

He was without a doubt, a man of integrity.  To his children, he was a hero.  To his grandchildren, he was better than Santa Claus.  We were lucky to have him in our lives!

Our family is a circle of strength and love.
Our family with every birth and every union, the circle grows.
Our family is a circle of strength.
Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger!

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