Ten years ago, on November 1, 1975 the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California held its first formal meeting. The record shows that on that date George Yee was elected as the first treasurer of the new community organization. The Chinese Historical Society record also shows that George Yee was elected and distinguished himself in the year 1977 as President of our still young organization. Continuing, George also served in 1979 and 1980 as membership secretary, and also in 1981 as recording secretary. Officially, George was listed as Member # 11, one of the small founding group. More recently, just this month of December, George became a Life Member.
The record obviously shows that George Yee was active in the organization. But to most of us here, we know that George was more than just, quote “active” unquote. We know that George shared in the vision of the founders of the Chinese Historical Society of Soutl1ern California, that there was a need to bring into true perspective the individual character and the overall contributions of Chinese Americans in California and American history. George wrote in his President’s message in the inaugural issue of Gum Saan Journal in August 1977 of the need for action; I quote:
“Our forefathers have broken a path in the forest for us to fallow. The traces of these footsteps are fading with the passage of time. Let us retrace these steps and record them while we can – not so much for ourselves, but for our children and our children’s children, so that they, too, will know and appreciate their Chinese-American heritage.”
But wait; George didn’t settle for words, he wanted action. In the next sentence in that same message he motivated us:
” ….. I ask you to join us, to move forward, first one step – then another – then one more.”
Today, ten years and many steps later, we can look back and see that George Yee was there with us at every step: monthly programs, board meetings, the Lotus and Street Scene festivals, New Year’s parades, field trips, seminars. Ten years worth, month after month. George got the job done, with enthusiasm, humor, optimism. The word “can’t” was not in his vocabulary. George got people involved, new people to join with his infectious energy. George helped raise valuable project funds, while teaching us to have a good time at it. George made us laugh, with his ingenious skits, with his unselfconscious good humor.
Got a problem? “Let George do it!”, he would say. George even raffled off his services one time: “George can do anything!”, he said, and he could and he did do anything. George was a worker and a fighter for our Chinese Historical Society of Southern California; in his eyes, we were “NEW – BIG – FAST – BEST!”
In closing, George Yee firmly believed in recognizing the courage, the determination, the positive work ethic of the early Chinese American pioneers. I submit that George was of that same mold, that through his inspiration, leadership, and humor, George Yee was a pioneer for our generation and our Chinese Historical Society; to signify his commitment I understand from his family today that George will be wearing his Chinese Historical Society Life Membership pin for all eternity. In our eyes George Yee himself was “BIG – FAST – BEST!”
by Eugene W. Moy