Zeppelin Wai Wong died on March 25, 2017 surrounded by family and close friends.
The scion of an early San Francisco Chinatown family that landed in 1815, he was born on September 1, 1929, just a week after the Graf Zeppelin flew over San Francisco, gifting Zeppelin his namesake.
He was one of two sons born to Alice and Sare King Wong. Sare King was the head of the Wong Family Association, Senator-at-Large of the Kai Min Tang party, a poet, known to Chinese-speaking people around the world, and the founder of the Chinese Cultural University in Taipei. Alice was one of the founding members of the Chinatown YMCA and a beloved Chinese language teacher
Zeppelin received his Bachelors from Stanford University, his JD from UC Hastings, and then went on to continue his studies in International Corporate Law in Germany and Denmark. After his schooling, he returned to San Francisco where he, soon after, became the first Chinese-American appointed to the Federal Attorney’s office.
During J.F. Kennedy’s campaign, Zeppelin was approached by Senator Edward Kennedy, a classmate from Denmark, to be placed on the short list for the Vice President position. In addition to an historic & storied law career, he served on the board of San Francisco State University for over 40 years and as Chairman-of-the-Board for the California Institute of Integral Studies, in addition to participating in many other cultural and political organizations throughout his professional career.
Zeppelin always found time to play tennis, watch Star Trek, and make fresh broths every week, but spent most of his life dedicated to serving and supporting his family and his community in every way possible.
He is survived by his wife Jean Wong, his son Matthew Tamaki, daughter-in-law, Lisa Tamaki, step daughter, Debbie Cullip, three sisters, Sarah Ann Lum, Shirley Wong Frentzel, and Betty Anne Wong, three grandchildren, Ally Covino, Corissa Tamaki, Sydney Tamaki, and a great granddaughter, Kai’lah Tamaki, as well as two nieces, Emily and Heather; three nephews, Anton, Duncan and Dwight; three grandnieces, Ina, Jennifer and Sherry; six grandnephews, Siraco, Tyler, Phillip, Ian and the twin boys of Duncan, and cousins. His brother Victor Wong passed away in 2001.
A music celebration organized by the Wong sisters will be held in honor of Zeppelin’s life at the San Francisco Community Music Center - 544 Capp St. - on October 22, 2017 from 1:00pm-4:00pm.
Donations can be made to Institute of Integral Studies, Stanford University, the undergraduate writing department of Columbia University in the City of New York, as well as the San Francisco Community Music Center.