Re: Bruce Lee's older siblings in the USADecember 24 2016 at 10:55 AM
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Response to Question for LJF: Bruce Lee's older siblings in the USA?
Thanks for your favorable comments, Chuan. Will keep up the quality work.
Due to their reserved characters, Agnes and Peter tend to stay very low profile and were hardly interviewed even by the Eastern media. So far, I only found bits and pieces of Peter’s news on the old HK papers after Bruce passed away in 1973. Most reporters were only interested in asking him about Bruce’s story and pay not so much attention on his personal affairs. It is understandable as Bruce was a superstar and Peter was only a common resident in HK. As for Agnes, she has long migrated to USA after she married a Chinese over there. Like Peter, she prefers to keep her privacy away from the public and media. Also, she seems more soft-spoken, reserved and shy compared to Phoebe and Robert who are more outspoken and open to the media’s interviews.
I managed to find 2 rare Chinese articles each on Phoebe and Agnes and would translate them when I got the time. They will be posted in this forum only.
Regarding your interest about Peter and Agnes’ time in the U.S., there were not much info or specific reports on this topic but some essential info can be gathered from BL’s books and papers though not much or detailed.
In Robert Lee’s book, “Bruce Lee, My Brother,” he recalled that Bruce’s parents decided to send Bruce to the U.S. after he was involved in a serious fight with a HK triad society member and was sternly warned by the police. So, in late April 1959, Bruce departed HK for the United States to meet up with his older sister Agnes Lee who was already living with her family friends in San Francisco (S.F.). In the book, “Tiger and Dragon,” it mentioned Bruce was expecting to meet his second elder sister, Agnes when he arrived in the “President Wilson” passenger liner in S.F. pier in May 1959. In some old Chinese articles, they mentioned that Agnes (b. 1938) who was 2 years older than Bruce and 1 year older than Peter (b. 1939), went over to the U.S. a year earlier. That means 1958 (she was around 20 years old then). However, Bruce did not see Agnes but was welcome by an old opera’s friend of his father Lee Hoi Chuen, whose name was Guan Jing Ho. Later, Bruce stayed with this “uncle” temporarily in S.F. before moving on to Seattle.
By the way, Agnes’ Chinese name is Lee Chau-Fung and Chau-Fung in Chinese means the autumn’s phoenix. So, there were actually 2 phoenixes in Lee’s family, i.e. Agnes and Bruce (nicknamed Sai Fung (little phoenix) as well as Siu Loong, the little dragon). There were no specific details or special mentioning about Agnes enrolling into which universities in the U.S. According to the book, “The Bruce Lee Story”, Linda recalled Agnes attended college in the S.F. Bay area when she and Bruce lived in Oakland (circa 1964-65). They were able to see her often in those days and she was a great help to Linda when Brandon was born.
Agnes and her husband, Bing (full name Chan Ping-Chi), a space and rocket scientist then lived in Long Island, NY in the 80s. She worked as a hospital lab technician, in addition to having raised three children. If Agnes had enrolled into the university in 1958, then she would have graduated by 1962. But Linda said Agnes was still schooling in S.F. College circa 64-65. So, she should have only graduated by 1965 since she got married to Bing in 1966. There were photos of Bruce, Linda, baby Brandon and Bruce’s mother, Grace Lee attending Agnes and Bing’s church wedding in 1966. Bruce was filming Green Hornet TV series then and his hairstyle was exactly the same as in that TV series. If Agnes was working as a hospital lab technician, then most likely she majored in medical related studies in the University. So, probably after her 4 years degrees study, she continued to study her post-graduate degree, i.e. master degree in S.F. College for another 2-3 years which makes sense in this case.
According to her Chinese interview, she worked as a “medical specialist” in the U.S. for many years and after her retirement in the 90’s, she lived with her husband in Pennsylvania (probably have moved from Long Island in the 80’s to Pennsylvania in the 90’s. Both are located on the east side of the U.S.). As for Bruce’s eldest sister, Phoebe, she is retired and lived in L.A. with her husband, Ng Kong-Wo, a famous Chinese calligrapher. They used to live in S.F. in the 80’s and had move to L.A. in the 90’s to reside near her youngest brother, Robert Lee. Phoebe is a woman of fierce pride, she probably knows more about the Lee family history than many people (besides her mother Grace Lee and her elder cousin Lee Chau-Kin) and like Robert, has been generous in granting interviews to those seeking to tell Bruce’s life story.
Meeting of Lee’s siblings in the U.S.
As for the meeting of the siblings in S.F., though Agnes was supposed to pick up Bruce when he arrived in S.F. in mid May 1959 but most likely due to her study’s commitment, she was not able to make it. Instead, Guan Jing Ho, old friend of Lee Hoi-Chuen was there to see the arrival of the little dragon. Bruce stayed with him in S.F. for several months before moving on to Seattle and stayed with Ruby Chow and Ping Chow (both Lee’s family friend) in September 1959. During this time, Agnes should have met her 2 brothers Bruce and Peter in S.F. and traveled to Seattle to meet Bruce during her summer school vacation. Also, when Eunice Lam (Peter’s girlfriend) came over to the U.S. in 1961, the Lee’s siblings (Peter, Bruce and Agnes) had met up with her. More info in my past article, “Eunice Lam Remembers Bruce Lee” dated April 9 2016: (http://www.network54.com/Forum/256969/message/1460189288/Eunice+Lam+Remembers+Bruce+Lee+%28Pt.1+of+2%29). Though it never mentioned Agnes was present during the meeting but she was living in S.F. bay area then, so, there must be opportunity for her to meet Eunice since both of her brothers came to S.F.
In the above article, Eunice said, “I enrolled into the summer class in the University of Washington (note: circa 1961) and his brother, Lee Chung-Sam (Peter Lee) told Bruce to take good care of me.” Bruce was in Seattle and Peter was in studying in Minnesota then. That’s why Peter was not able to meet Eunice in Seattle. However, they agreed to meet in S.F. during their school vacation.
In Eunice’s recollections, she said Bruce borrowed a car and drove her with an elderly lady (car belonged to her) from Seattle to S.F. They waved goodbye to the elderly lady before proceeding to Auntie Sing’s house. She said, “Auntie Sing was a friend of Bruce’s mother, Grace Lee. She was a local Chinese who always welcome all her friend’s children to stay at her house and served them with great hospitality. Chung-Sam (Peter) stayed there before his school commenced.” So, it is likely that Agnes had stayed with Auntie Sing for a short while too when she arrived in S.F. Refer also to the following article for more info on Peter Lee, “HK Colony Fencing Champion In 1958 dated August 29 2015”
According to Eunice, Peter continued her courtship with her while they were still in the college years. Eunice said they used to contact each other via phone calls regularly as both were studying in different places. Sometimes, Bruce would also call and pretended to be his brother. Both bore quite similar tones and voices. Eunice was being tricked by Bruce many times but was not angry with him since she knew it was part of his jovial personality.
Peter was the pride of his parents. Not only was he good in his study and conduct in school, he was also very good in sports. He represented La Salle College and won the HK Colony Fencing Champion in 1958. He then represented HK to participate in the Commonwealth’s fencing competition held in the U.K. in 1958. According to Robert Lee, two months after Bruce left HK on April 1959, Peter was also sent to the U.S. by his parents to further his study. In the book, “Dragon and Tiger,” Peter met Bruce in S.F. and then in September 1959, they took a plane to Seattle. He joined Bruce in Seattle for a short stay before moving on to Minnesota to attend college (his earlier application was accepted by the college). Bruce did not complete his high school, hence, had to enroll into Edison Technical School to finish his high school study first before applying for the college.
So, Peter either began his college from either late 1959 or early 1960. Therefore, he should have graduated from the University of Minnesota by either 1963 or 1964. According to “The Bruce Lee Story,” Peter indeed attended college in Minnesota where he excelled in physics. After his father’s death in 1965, Peter returned to live in HK. He once worked as a teacher in La Salle College and was the fencing coach for the La Salle’s fencing team. According to Eunice’s memoir, she and Peter got married in 1966 once she had graduated from the University of Berkeley. Then, she gave birth to a son, Lee Kai-Ho in 1967. Subsequently, Peter worked as the Assistant Director for HK Royal Observatory. He later obtained his Doctorate degree and continued to hold the abovementioned prominent position for many years until his retirement in the 90’s. Peter divorced twice (once with Eunice Lam and another with 1975 Miss HK Champion, Mary Cheung) and later migrated to Australia in the 90’s with his son and daughter of second marriage. Peter passed away on 3rd Sep 2008 due to a sudden heart attack.
Both Peter and Agnes had fond memories of Bruce. They both said Bruce was a hyperactive kid, and would always be moving about all the time. He loved to play pranks on people with various kinds of tricks. None of the people in the house had not been “victimized” by him. However, it would be surprising to see him sitting quietly at a side since this was not his usual self and if he did, the whole family would be worried and would think that he must had fallen sick. Yet, beside his mischievousness, he was a kind-hearted person who would help the needy and stood up for the injustice others faced.
Re: Bruce Lee's older siblings in the USA - shaolinguy on Dec 24, 2016, 12:17 PM
Great info about Lee's siblings! - Billy on Dec 24, 2016, 4:38 PM
Thank you for sharing your insights LJF ... - Chuan Jun Fan on Dec 29, 2016, 1:03 AM