Joseph was born May 1, 1937 in Faat Au Village, Toisan, Guangdong, China to Wong Yow and Yue Kam. He learned to be independent at a young age. In 1950, when Joseph was 13 years old, he boarded the “American President” steamship in Guangdong, China and crossed the Pacific Ocean. He landed at Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco. In January 1951, he was able to reunite with his father in Minneapolis.
Joseph Wong could accomplish anything he set his mind to do. As a teenager, he had a passion for building things. He enjoyed fixing cars, motors, and all things mechanical. He graduated from Minneapolis Vocational High School in 1954. One of his fondest memories is buying a “clunker” car with a rusted floorboard. Together with his cousin, they fixed it up and drove (sometimes pushing) the car around town and making trouble.
His hobbies included, fishing, stereo systems, listening to Chinese opera, flying airplanes, playing games – Pacman, shooting pool, placing bets sports games, eating well, telling jokes, and taking road trips. Mr. Wong served in the army from 1956 to 1960. Stationed in Ladd Army base Fairbanks, Alaska, his service included flying Cessna planes from Ladd Army base to Fort Lewis (Tacoma Washington).
After being discharged from the Army, he turned down a job offer to be Northwest Airlines pilot. Instead, he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a restaurant entrepreneur. He had a strong work ethic often working 12-18 hour days to build his restaurant business. He did the best for his family and was proud of his ability to send support to his mother and sisters abroad while providing for his own family in the United States.
Joseph had a big heart and often provided financial support to those around him who needed it. He believed that many times, people sometimes just need a boost to get them over the hump. And, with this in mind, he never hesitated to offer assistance when asked.
Over the next 35 years, he operated several successful restaurants which included Lan’s Garden Café (Minneapolis), Wong’s Teahouse (Mound), Statesman Restaurant and Bar (Chaska) and Jerry’s Restaurant (St Paul).
After selling Jerry’s Restaurant, he retired in 1997. Not being able to sit still in retirement and having a desire to hit the open roads, he took on a part time job driving busses from Minneapolis to Chicago. In 2001, he entered full retirement and found his 4th career as grandpa. He enjoyed walking, traveling, meeting up with his friends, watching the news, and spending time with his grandchildren.
On Monday, November 9, 2020 at the age 83, he passed away peacefully following a fast moving liver infection complicated by low blood pressure at North Memorial Hospital.
Joe’s pride and joy were his children and grandchildren who learned from him that food, life, and love are interconnected.
This obituary was written as a collective effort by Joe’s children with support and input from his wife Zenaida Wong.