Friends of the Chinatown Library
Ruby Ling Louie
Excerpted from CHHSS biography
"Ruby graduated from Belmont High School
in 1948, then went on to Long Beach City
College and UCLA where a summer course
gave Ruby the direction for her life’s work:
a librarian for children. She went on to
Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh for her Master’s degree, and to public and school libraries in Connecticut, NY, L.A. County, and Long Beach. In 1976, she earned her PhD in Library Science from the University of Southern California. Along the way, Ruby married her Belmont and UCLA classmate Hoover Louie. They settled in Chinatown where Hoover had grown up and raised their two children there.
Ruby’s doctoral dissertation demonstrated the need for library services in LA Chinatown. As Founding President of the Friends of the Chinatown Library, Ruby led the efforts of many dedicated people to establish the first branch of the LA Public Library to offer full bilingual services to Chinese Americans. Virtually all the 4,000 Chinese books were checked out in the first 5 hours, and in 2001 the group broke ground for the permanent site on Hill Street. Ruby was active with the Friends for approximately 40 years, and there is an endowment in her honor: “The Ruby Ling Louie Endowment for Americans of Chinese Descent.” Both she and Hoover were also long-time members of CHSSC and established a CHSSC endowment to develop a collection of Chinese-American literature.
Ruby was passionate about literacy and giving back to her Chinatown community. She served on boards such as the United Way Literacy Task Force, the LA Council for Peace and Equality, and the White House Conference on Library and Information Services. Ruby received awards such as the Volunteer Activist of Southern California, the LA Mayor’s “Apple” Award, and the Reader’s Digest “American Heroes in Education” award.
Ruby is survived by her husband of 60 years, Hoover, her two children and their spouses, and three grandchildren. Her memorial service was held at St. Bridget’s Chinese Catholic Church where she and Hoover were active parishioners."
Excerpts from eulogy delivered by her son, Mike Woo, 2017
"Mom related well to people because she really cared about people. In her later years, after she retired from Chungking Produce, Mom wanted to find a way to be useful, so she and our sister Janice used to volunteer at the Chinatown Library and the Bruggemeyer Library in Monterey Park to tutor Chinese immigrants in English. Another example comes from Gladys Lee, the founding executive director of the Asian Pacific Family Center in the San Gabriel Valley, who is here in the audience with us today. Gladys says that back in the 1980s, when she was trying to launch this pioneering effort to combat mental illness in the Asian American community, she had encountered a lot of reluctance on the part of Asian Americans who did not want to be tainted by even an indirect association with the stigma of mental illness ... Mom became the first member of Gladys’s advisory council and not only donated money in her own name but also raised money from others, leading the Asian Pacific Family Center’s first fundraising drive and arranging for the donation of a new car for a raffle. Gladys recalls that when the Asian Pacific Family Center held its first open house, Mom not only invited her friends but (true to form) also brought an ample supply of dim sum, cakes, and of course char siu bao to feed the supporters and put them in a good mood. When Mom wanted to describe someone she admired, one of her favorite words was “enterprising.” She admired Gladys Lee’s efforts to raise awareness of mental illness and thought of Gladys as an enterprising person. But Mom herself was very enterprising and taught each of her children to do our best, using whatever we’ve got, to make a difference in the world and to be good to people. In closing, on the subject of being good to people, I’d like to express immense gratitude on behalf of my sisters Pat, Elaine, and Pam, my brothers in law Robert and John, and my wife Laurie to the caregivers who have been so diligent and dedicated in their service to Mom in her later years. To Mylene Viray, Mele Griffith, Letty Lim, and Roque Navarro, our entire family deeply appreciates your indispensable role taking care of Mom and making her life as good as it could be especially during her final illness."
Remembrance by Dr. William Chun-Hoon, FOCL Historian
Upon Beth Woo's retirement from Chung King Produce she wanted to be useful so she began volunteering at the Chinatown and Monterey Park Libraries. Beth was faithful in her participation in the grandparents and books program in which she would read to the children. She especially enjoyed spending time with them, selecting and reading fun and adventure books to enhance their love and skill in reading. She devoted her retirement years well into her 80’s at the Chinatown and Monterey Park Libraries. At the entrance to the Chinatown Library, the community meeting room is named for Beth and Wilbur Woo.
The Friends, the Library Staff and the Woo Family determined how to best use donations in memory of Beth Woo.
Excerpted from remembrance by Yvonne
Nishio, FOCL Advisory Member, originally
published in the FOCL Newsletter
"Dr. William Chun-Hoon
was our principal when my two daughters
attended Castelar Elementary School. He
was from Hawaii so he didn’t speak much Chinese, but nevertheless, we parents found him to be very warm and welcoming. We especially respected his commitment to improving our children’s education and the Chinatown community. Dr. Chun-Hoon was co-founder of the Friends of the Chinatown Library (FOCL), along with Dolores Wong and Ruby Ling. He convinced the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to allow the Chinatown Library to co-locate on the Castelar campus. This temporary trailer-size library had the most books checked out in the entire library system! FOCL was then able to put pressure on L.A. City to build a large, permanent library in Chinatown. Dr. Chun-Hoon also addressed the childcare needs of working parents in Chinatown. He brought on Lauren Okayama, an early childhood development specialist, to Castelar. Together they developed a program for preschoolers and later, an after-school program. The Castelar Children’s Center was one of the first of its kind and became a model for LAUSD to offer pre-school and after school programs ... Shortly after retiring, he became interested in adult education. We spent many hours talking about how to meet the educational needs of immigrants in the Chinatown community ... [and he created] on-site classes and tutorial programs for adults. At the same time, Dr. Chun-Hoon and I initiated the FOCL Scholarship Awards at Evans for students who achieved their high school diploma ... In summary, Dr. Chun-Hoon was a caring and innovative educator. At the time he proposed these initiatives, they had never been done before. His success lies in his belief that education is best served when the needs of the community are met: When Chinatown needed a library, he and others founded FOCL to advocate for a new library. When it took years to find a location and build the proposed library, he offered temporary space at Castelar. When Chinatown parents needed comprehensive childcare, he developed the Castelar Children’s Center. When immigrants were dismayed by their limited future, he pointed them to adult ESL classes and offered scholarships to support those continuing into higher education. This list is incomplete because he was involved with many other projects. He touched our lives with his kindness, positive attitude, and his steady leadership. We all miss Bill, and we will remember him as a visionary educator and a true community hero."
Excerpts from remembrance submitted by the Wong family:
“Dolores Wong was born in Vallejo, California, on September 24, 1921. She passed away peacefully in her sleep on November 23, 2014 ... Dolores was a fourth-generation Californian whose great-grandfather arrived in San Francisco in 1852. She was the first person in her family to attend college, graduating from U.C. Berkeley in 1942, and receiving a Master’s Degree from Smith College in 1946. She worked as a psychiatric social worker in Boston, New Orleans, and Sacramento until the birth of her children. She became a full-time mother and invested many years in community volunteer activities. Her happiest and most satisfying contribution was to help fund and establish the first public library in Los Angeles Chinatown.
Honors received during her lifetime include awards from the YWCA, Organization of Chinese Americans, Asian Pacific Women’s Network, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Chinatown Public Safety Association, and Friends of the Chinese American Museum.”
Remembrance by Dr. William Chun-Hoon, FOCL Historian
“We cherish her legacy as one of the original founders of the Friends of the Chinatown Library, committed to developing the library from an idea into a reality, an immense contribution that altered the community landscape of Chinatown and the citywide Los Angeles public library system.
With fierce skills of persuasiveness wrapped in elegance, kindness and charm, Dolores tirelessly campaigned for the right of Chinatown residents, young and old, to locally access the academic resources, information, services and programs that only a neighborhood public library can provide. She helped to nurture the concept, lead the advocacy campaign, and raise the funds that supported each new chapter of building this vibrant community institution on its long journey from proposal to its original home in borrowed space in Castelar to its current beautiful landmark building today.
Dolores was a role model of public service, community leadership, good citizenship, dear friendship and an inspiration for us all. Her legacy and impact will benefit and inspire generations to come.
As we travel over the crest of Hill and Ord Streets, through the gateway to Chinatown, and pass in front of the library, intersecting with Judge Delbert E. Wong Square, we embrace fond remembrances of the exemplary lives of Dolores and Del.”
The Wong Family requested the donations be given to the Friends Scholarship Fund.