Some friends have asked me for a copy of what I said at the funeral of Dr Raymond C W Wong on 20 December 2008. Raymond was indeed very close to many of us. I have been procrastinating, for at least two reasons. First, I did not exactly follow what I wrote in tearing haste in the small hours of one morning a week before his funeral. I was following a translation by Stanley Mok who did a very good job and who did indeed bring out what I would have liked to say and more. Stanley in his usual modesty would not like to have his work acknowledged. Secondly, I had wanted to do another piece that would more adequately articulate my recollection of Raymond whom I have openly declared as my mentor long ago, but as usual, I have yet to type the first word. Some things are more difficult than they appear. Lest I forget, I now share with you what I have written earlier as a tribute to a dear departed friend.
Eulogy – The Fruit of Love
By now, a lot of people have said or written a lot on Raymond. This is not surprising, for Raymond was such a well known character in many circles, both in Hong Kong and abroad. As I browsed through the messages and articles written on him and to him, I picked up new dimensions on this wonderful and interesting person; and I realized, albeit belatedly, that I have not known him enough. I have thus taken on this unenviable task with great trepidation and humility.
No one likes to do eulogies, not for friends anyway. For myself, I would like to see all my friends, particularly very good friends, to outlive me so that they would write mine. I am mindful that many of you had known Raymond longer than I and were much closer and nearer to him than I was. I would therefore content myself with going over some personal reflections, leaving you to recall details of his many achievements from information recorded in this brochure put together in his remembrance.
Few would dispute that it was a pleasure to have known Raymond. We are talking about someone who was tall, handsome, youthful and athletic, who had bright eyes and even brighter smiles, who was larger than life, and who was very talented and more importantly, even more generous.
Talented no doubt he was, for he excelled in almost any field he touched, from graphic design to desk publishing, from human anatomy to wine tasting, from hiking to horse racing, from reading to contract bridge, from public speaking to singing, from managing patients to managing business, from musical notes to bank notes, from IT software to DIY hardware, and so on and so on.
More relevantly, Raymond had always been generous to exert the talents that God had blessed him with to benefit others, including his patients, his friends, and most importantly the less fortunate in the community, including people he had never met. He had thus contributed his time and energies selflessly in voluntary service, both locally and abroad, and had been recognized for doing so.
Raymond was educated in Wah Yan College. This is a school ran by the Jesuits; and which had consistently produced fine young men over the years. After graduation, he continued his association with his alma mater by helping the alumni run their association and by helping fund raising for the school. He then went to the Medical School of the University of Hong Kong from where he graduated with flying colours, and had since led an outstanding career in the medical field.
As a distinguished general surgeon, he had been a volunteer for the World Health Organization, the Hong Kong Scouts, the Abilympics, the Rotary International and other non-governmental organizations. Raymond had also participated extensively in public service through committee work and personal involvement. He had contributed actively to the management of the Hong Kong Medical Association, the St John Council for Hong Kong, the Community Chest of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abuse, to name but a few of his more prominent contribution. His keen interest in local horse racing could be reflected in him being made a Voting Member of the Hong Kong Jockey Club; and his love for Hong Kong was recognized through the appointment of Convention Ambassador by the Hong Kong Tourist Board.
I met Raymond through Rotary, some 20 years ago. I was a brand new member of a brand new club and he was Governor of the District. It must have been a District Conference or District Assembly. There was Raymond, in his well tailored suit, complete with matching tie and kerchief in the top pocket, making a presentation on the state of the District with a slide projector on remote control. It was 1987 when such presentation was regarded as state of the art. Very importantly, he spoke in a firm but soothing voice, and with conviction. Many people in the audience were visibly impressed and affected. I asked my club president sitting next to me who the speaker was and what he did for a living. When I found out that he was a surgeon, I was impressed too, for a young surgeon who could make such a great presentation for love must be a great believer of what Rotary stands for.
In the following year, fate had it that I had to become club president, while Raymond, Governor of the District for a second term. It meant that we two had a working relationship. It turned out to be the beginning of a long lasting and extremely rewarding relationship, one of mentorship and friendship, one built on mutual respect and trust, and for which I am eternally grateful and for which I can never thank Raymond enough.
Raymond had been a Rotarian for three decades; and everyone would agree that he personifies Rotary and the Ideal of Service which Rotary promotes. A past governor of the district describes him as “an admirable human being, a great Rotarian and an example to all, a wonderful governor, a most trusted counselor, a wise man full of love and who always looked beyond himself.”
Raymond must have been a great believer of Rotary, for he had introduced more than one hundred members to the organization. He believed in giving members accurate and timely Rotary information and he did so through the weekly bulletin of the Rotary Club of Kowloon East, which he continued to publish all these years, even from his sick bed and to the very end.
Raymond was a great fan of Mother Teresa. He had used her quotes in his speeches and articles. One of his favourite quote was, “The fruit of silence is Prayer. The fruit of prayer is Faith. The fruit of faith is Love. The fruit of love is Service.” This is proof that Raymond was absolutely and completely service minded. His love and conviction for service in general and for Rotary’s Ideal of Service in particular had been total and unconditional. In the same way that Mother Teresa had urged her audience to “love until it hurts,” Raymond had loved Rotary until it hurt.
I would not dwell on the achievements and awards that Rotary International and the District had heaped on Raymond over the years. You can read about them at leisure. Suffice it to say that he had received the highest accolade that the Rotary organization can bestow; and they were thoroughly merited for someone who had given his all in furtherance to the Object of Rotary.
This eulogy would not be complete without mentioning Raymond’s love for Vivien, to whom all our prayers and thoughts go. For the last 23 years, Vivien was his top priority. He would not go to any major function without her or without her agreement. In turn, Vivien has always given him unconditional love and support; and we thank her for that. We have no doubt that Raymond would continue to watch over Vivien and pray for her from Heaven.
Raymond was baptized early in life and had been under the benign influence of the Jesuits all these years. He said he would pray for miracles during natural disasters, in his many humanitarian trips overseas, and in other emergencies. In the scheme of things, greater miracles are those which change the heart and mind of people through examples and selfless deeds. These, Raymond had been doing all his life.
Lastly, we are here today not only to say goodbye to a friend, but also to celebrate his life and to glorify God for having sent Raymond among us. We would always remember his bright eyes and hearty smiles. On behalf of the family of Raymond, I thank the countless messages and flowers, and condolences and donations from friends and well wishers all over the world; and I thank you for keeping Raymond company on his last trip. May God bless you all.