Eulogy – Dr Albert Wee (27 July 1935 – 16 October 2017)

St Ignatius Church – Noon, Friday 20 October 2017

I stand here as a friend, fellow Rotarian and as President of the Rotary Club of Singapore.  On behalf of all Rotarians I would like to give my most sincere condolences to Anne, Ronnie, Jenny and the other members of the Wee family.  I have known Albert since 2008 when I joined the club and I would like to share with you some of the fond memories Rotary worldwide, not just me, has of your husband, father, grandfather and friend.

For us, in Albert’s Rotary family, it all started 48 years ago, on 1 May 1969 when he joined our club.  Albert, as we have heard, was always quick to smile and had a gentle, kind and yet very sharp sense of humour.  As we have also heard he loved his family, his patients, his colleagues, his food, languages, holidays, tennis and we are very pleased to note, Rotary.

Of food:  from the many Rotary trips and weekly Rotary lunches we know the passion he had for Hokken fried kway teoh, fried salted vegie cup cake Chwee Kueh, pigs tripe, Penang kway teoh, wanton noodles and more – not the food one might expect of a cardiologist ……….. HOWEVER, he balanced his diet, as all good doctors should, with fish and fruit – his favourite fish being sushi and …… have guessed it ………his favourite fruit being durian!   In the durian season we again witnessed Albert’s generosity and kindness, driving to a special shop in Ballestier and buying durian for his colleagues – of course he then sent them out of the office to the car park to eat it – there are rules in Singapore you know!!  But in his defence he then minded the clinic so as to allow his colleagues to fully enjoy their durian treat without interruption!!

Of patients:  they loved and respected him and his medical talent.  However he was not perfect and I heard he once decided to send a patient for a cardiac stress test and said “now you need to go for a run…...”  however, once the machine was set up, the patient could not be found – the patient only re-appeared some 30 mins later, heavily sweating, holding his chest and proudly explaining how he had run, as just told to by the doctor, around the perimeter of Mt Elizabeth Hospital.  I am told he survived…….

Of people and dedication:  I was reminded by his practice partner Dr Winston Oh, he never turned down medical calls whatever time of day or night.  He went to medical conventions, always learning.  His core team have worked with him for over 30 years.  Did you know he was still working at his clinic this time last Friday?  And planning to go for hairy crab with his family on Sunday?  He loved people and life and kindly hosted many rotary events at his home including an annual Christmas Carol party for the whole of our Club - always wonderfully led, with carol sheets, by his beautiful wife Anne.

Of Rotary trips:  well he always took his tennis racket (and a spare one with new strings) …. Just in case!  He travelled to Japan (he liked the sushi), to Cambodia, to Taiwan, to Malaysia (he liked the Kway Teoh), to the Philippines (where the durian is not bad, although it is better in Malaysia) and many other countries, not just once but many times ………… bringing his mischievous sense of humour wherever he went.  I was with Albert and Anne visiting RC Makati in the Philippines both this year and last year – a special treat and lovely memory for me and my wife. 

As mentioned Albert travelled on many rotary missions, last night a group of us were again discussing his generosity on one of them.  On his first trip to Dan Ang, Vietnam, about a decade ago – the group had only just arrived, but upon seeing the terrible conditions of the orphanage being visited, he immediately donated an additional, most generous amount, to support improving the conditions for the children.

He was a wonderful rotary ambassador, welcoming and charming our guests visiting from other clubs.  If we were not sure how to deal with a awkward visitor ………… never mind, sit him next to Albert …….. he will surely amuse them and make sure they don’t bore us with a long speech about their club …..… I joke, but he always did this job in such a kind and beautifully respectful way.

We could always rely on Albert to give a vote of thanks to our weekly speaker, our club secretariat will tell you that he ALWAYS ……. ALWAYS accepted the task of acknowledging a speaker, and with a twinkle in his eye, sharing a humourous remark linked to the speaker’s topic whilst giving his vote of thanks in a genuine and wonderful way.

We will sorely miss, Albert, this wonderful, charming, humorous, most generous and kind man; he has been part of the fixtures of our club for the past half a century.  WE know he truly loved and lived the Rotary values of service above self and yet it is WE that are the ones who are so much better for sharing Rotary with Albert. 

Thank you Rtn Albert for “making a difference” in our lives and in the lives of the many that you so generously touched and supported during your lifetime.

Delivered by:  Keith Harrison, President 2017-18, Rotary Club of Singapore