Mary Kwong died peacefully on Dec. 31 at age 95.
Born and raised in Guadalupe, Calif., she attended Santa Maria High School. She worked for a year after graduation and then attended Sacramento City College. She eventually transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the first American-born Chinese to earn a bachelor’s degree in Asian history as part of the Class of 1942.
She married Joseph N.S. Kwong in December 1942 and had to postpone their honeymoon due to Joseph’s wartime job as one of the earliest Chinese chemical engineers at 3M in St. Paul. After returning to California for a few years, Mary and her family moved back to St. Paul to stay in 1951.
Mary worked in the St. Paul offices of Electric Machinery Co. for several years until leaving to raise her three sons. Mary enjoyed an active membership at the St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ. She was an enthusiastic participant in the Women’s Fellowship, Lucy Comings Circle, church groups and as a Sunday school teacher. She also volunteered throughout the community and was active in her neighborhood’s “Sunday Night Group,” which hosted parties and events for adults.
Mary will be missed by her sons, eight grandchildren, four greatgrandchildren and a large extended family. A memorial service will be scheduled when practical for older people to travel if they like.