By LANCE ARMSTRONG
Editor’s note: Lance Armstrong’s series on dairies in Land Park will be continued on Dec. 27.
South Land Park resident and philanthropist Dr. Herbert Yee, who is also recognized for his many years of working as a dentist in the capital city, makes it no secret that he is a staunch supporter of education.
Already known for assisting in the advancement of education through other projects, Herbert recently presented a check in the amount of $12,500 to Sacramento’s Confucius Chinese School.
The school, which has an enrollment of about 70 students, received this charitable donation during a special dinner honoring Herbert. The donation will be used for teachers’ salaries, janitorial services and school supplies.
The event, which was held on Sunday, Dec. 2 at Rice Bowl restaurant at 2378 Florin Road, began with a performance by some of the school’s students, who sang “God Bless America.”
Directing the event, which was attended by about 250 people, were its masters of ceremony Alfred Yee, the school’s principal, who spoke in English, and Henry Yee, who spoke in Chinese.
Represented at the event were the local Chinese Confucius Church and school, the Chinese Benevolent Association of Sacramento, the Yee Association and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Association.
And attending the gathering as special honored guests were Alan Yee, the western grand president of the Yee Association from Los Angeles, Eddie Yee, the president of San Francisco’s Yee Association, Yi Hua Yu of Stockton’s Yee Association and Bill Wong, president of the Chinese Benevolent Association of San Francisco.
As a prelude to the dinner, the event included several speakers and presentations.
Among these speakers were Senator Leland Yee, who represents District 8 in the western half of San Francisco and the majority of San Mateo County, Sacramento County Supervisor Jimmie Yee, Dr. Jong Chen, president of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Sacramento, and Frank Kwong, president of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial and Soo Yuen Benevolent associations.
In speaking beyond the topic of Herbert’s monetary contributions, Kwong said, “(Herbert is) the nicest person, he’s my mentor, he’s a good friend, a good father. That means a lot to our community. It’s a good example of how we put our community together.”
Herbert also spoke to the gathering’s attendees, who also included his wife, Inez, their sons, Randy, Alan and Wesley, their four daughter-in-laws, and five of their grandchildren.
In honor of his goodwill to the Sacramento community, Herbert was presented with a state senate proclamation from Leland Yee.
He also received a proclamation from the People’s Republic of China and a plaque from the Chinese Benevolent Association of Sacramento.
And as a show of appreciation for Herbert’s financial donation to the school, students of the school presented him with a large, artistically decorated, heavy stock paper that included a drawing of an apple on a stack of books and a bullhorn-like image with the words: “Thank you, Dr. Yee, Confucius Chinese School.”
Surrounding these features were signatures of the school’s students.
Herbert is very well connected to Sacramento’s Confucius Chinese School, considering that in addition to attending the school himself, his father, Henry, and all of his sons and grandchildren were once students at the school.
Furthermore, Henry, Herbert and Randy Yee have all served on the school’s board.
Herbert described his longtime involvement in assisting in the advancement of education and his overall love for education.
“My love is in education,” Herbert said. “I built a school in China. That’s education. I’m on the board of the University of the Pacific. That’s education. I love the Chinese school. That’s education. I have an exhibit at the (California State) Railroad Museum. I’m on the board yet, 32 years. And that’s education about trains, transportation. I have a hologram at The California Museum about the history of our family, so that’s education. In Fiddletown, you’ll see my great-grandfather’s herb store. So, I am more attuned to encourage young people to go to college, and especially the Chinese. But now you really don’t need to encourage them. They know, especially the immigrants who come from even Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, China. That’s why (at the University of California,) Berkeley, more than half of the students are Asian, because their parents encouraged them to study.”
Herbert, who graduated from Sacramento High School in June 1942, said that his own father, who began attending Stanford University in 1918, encouraged him to attend schools to further his education.
“I skipped low 7th (grade) and I just went straight from 6th grade to high 7th (grade) and I skipped the last six months of high school,” Herbert said. “Of course, my father pushed me a little bit. Then he said, ‘You try Stanford.’ I didn’t know it was so tough to get (into Stanford), but I got in. I was there 70 years ago. Now I’m 88, almost.”
Eventually, Herbert spent more than a half century working as a dentist. This time included his work as the official dentist for the staff of governors Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan.
Herbert, who is a longtime member of the Sutter Club, American Legion Post 692, Lion’s Club District 4 C5 and Del Paso Country Club, has served as president of many organizations, including the California State Board of Dental Examiners, American Cancer Society for Sacramento County, Sacramento Chinese Benevolent Association and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Association.
Additionally, Herbert recently reached a milestone as a South Land Park resident.
After experiencing difficulty purchasing a home in the area due to his ethnicity, Herbert was finally able to buy his current home on Nov. 2, 1952.
He celebrated the 60th anniversary of this event with his sons, and noted, “Dad is kind of a sentimental guy.”
In speaking about his achievement of purchasing a home in South Land Park, Herbert said, “I was one of the first (Chinese to live in the area). I don’t want to claim to be the (first). Since that time, quite a number of Asians have lived here.”
With his love for education, Herbert said that he is proud that his sons were able to graduate from college and become successful in their professional lives.
Randy is a retired dentist, as well as a member of the Confucius Chinese School board, Alan is a pulmonary doctor, Wesley is a dentist, and his late son, Douglas, was a dentist.
Herbert and Inez also have a granddaughter, Juliana, who is attending Stanford Law School.
Wesley, who gave a speech about his father’s life during the event, recognized the importance of his mother in his Herbert’s life.
“What my father accomplished would not have happened without the love his life and his soul mate, our mother, Inez,” Wesley said. “She raised four boys, was a Cub Scouts den leader, attended our PTA meetings and worked in my father’s office. Later she would accompany my father worldwide on his missions to help people around the world and in our nation.”
As a man who is always involved in many projects, Herbert does not feel that the word, “retired,” is a word that would best describe his current status in life.
“Now, I’d like to say I’m retired, but you know a man like me, we never retire,” Herbert said. “My mind is always thinking. I always say when I wake up in the morning, I want to think that I want to be a better person – a better person today than yesterday. And I want to see how I can best take care of my little wife, who I married 67, going on 68 years (ago), and, of course, my family and all the business I have.”