Jennifer Y. Wong was the first child born in an English-speaking congregation of a Chinese church in Manhattan 26 years ago.
She was also the first of three born to her proud parents, Ben and Joyce Wong.
On Oct. 13, more than 1,000 family, friends and members of Chinatown’s Chinese Evangel Mission Church attended a memorial in her honor. At the service, a book of memories written by family and friends helped them remember a woman they called a role model and, in many cases, 'the older sister I never had.'
Wong had returned from a week in Italy with two close friends Sept. 10.
The next day she went back to work as a risk management technologist with Marsh & McLennan on the 96th floor of Tower One in the World Trade Center.
The Whitestone resident generously shared her professional successes with her family, her father said.
'Jennifer has always been an encouragement to me,' her sister, Stephanie, 22, wrote in the book of memories and pictures. 'Whenever we played ’school,’ she would always be the teacher and I would be her little student, following and listening to her.'
She began Sunday School at age 8, joined various Christian youth groups as she grew older, and taught two summers of Vacation Bible School while at Townsend Harris High School in Flushing. Later, she became a Sunday School teacher herself. She organized a Christian group at SUNY Binghamton, where she studied business management.
She was so dedicated to her church that, after college graduation, she delayed the start of her first full-time job to serve as director of the church’s vacation Bible school.
She tried to balance her profession with her values. Her family shared part of her 1997 prayer journal: 'Allow me not to be consumed by the idols I sometimes set up around me ... wealth, greed, materialism, status and ’economicisms,’' Wong wrote.
'At home, no matter how busy she was, she was always ready with a helping hand, a car ride, her beaming smile or gentle advice,' her cousins wrote.
But she also valued her quiet time, sometimes watching movies on tape by herself - 'It’s OK to watch movies alone. I like to and I do it a lot. It’s fun to just be by myself sometimes,' her cousin Kristen Yu recalled her saying.
Sandra Mark, a friend, wrote, 'I remember every night in Italy ... she would do her quiet time. I admired her consistency. And because of this, it encourages me to be more diligent in my quiet time with God.'
Many ended their memories of Wong by saying they are sure they will meet her again.
'I know that God has you running around heaven right now setting up rooms for everyone that you left behind,' wrote her brother, Michael, 23, in a letter to her. 'I hope you save me the room next to yours ...'
Deeply Religious, Devoted to Family
Jennifer Wong was a Christian, and when it came to life, she didn’t just talk the talk. She was kind to people and deeply devoted to her family, with whom she lived in Queens.
Wong, who worked at client services in the risk management division of Marsh & McLennan, was a 1997 graduate of Binghamton University.
She is survived by her parents, a brother and a sister.
(c) 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission. www.newsday.com