By Woodard, Dale on July 10, 2020.
Ida May Ngor (Yuen) Lee saw a parade coming up the block.
It was for her, and with good reason.
With an abundance of family and friends – and more family from around the world keeping tabs online – Ngor celebrated her 100th birthday July 2.
In keeping with the safety measures of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group celebrated the centennial from their vehicles.
“We had a drive-by parade,” said Ngor’s daughter, Judy Chan. “It was very well-attended. We probably had about 50 people. The fire department came and the mayor (Chris Spearman) came. That made it extra special.
“It was a surprise, we didn’t tell her we were having a parade. My daughter had suggested we do a parade. So we posted it on Facebook and I notified a whole bunch of my friends and they came out. She knew quite a few of them. She was pretty thrilled. We had a big banner made. So the banner had balloons, flowers and lanterns.”
Lee was born May Ngor (Ida) Yuen on July 2, 1920 to mother Bo Gim Eng and father Ben Wing Yuen in Nanoose, B.C. She was born in a stable where her father worked part-time as a blacksmith. Her father ended up delivering her since the doctor didn’t arrive in time.
In the 1930s she moved to Hong Kong and attended school in Toisan City.
In 1938 she married Jimmy Lee after sailing on the Empress of Asia from Hong Kong to Victoria, arriving Oct. 17. The couple was married Nov. 16
The couple moved to Lethbridge, settling in at 402 13 St. N.
They had eight children, Virginia, Vivian, Victor, Ivy, Ilona, Jane, Judy and Byron.
The couple ran Lee Duck Cleaner Shirt Laundering before their grandpa Lee purchased a new dry cleaners and the family eventually moved to 1241 4 Ave. N.
In 1979 Jimmy sold the dry cleaning business and in 1981 Jimmy and Ida settled in their newly-built house on the southside until Jim passed away in 1990.
Since then, Ida travelled extensively and now splits her time between Lethbridge and Vancouver, staying with Judy in Lethbridge and Virginia, Vivian or Ilona in Vancouver.
Judy said her mother’s 100th birthday party plans had been in the making for a couple of years.
“She had been talking about her 100th birthday for the last two years. So over a year ago we started planning this celebration and everybody was going to be here. Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, 68 family members and they were coming from Beijing, France, Australia, across Canada and the U.S.”
Unfortunately, the pandemic made travel impossible for her international family.
“Everybody had arranged to make sure they had the time off for their holiday. So the biggest disappointment was COVID,” said Judy.
Thanks to cyberspace, the family from afar was still able to take part in the centennial celebration.
“Everybody FaceTimed,” said Judy. “Even though my mom is 100 she’s pretty good on an iPad. She can FaceTime and email and Snapchat and she even did a TikTok video.”
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