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Feature Interview with Jack Hom: Benefactor and Philanthropist

As grateful students, parents, and an appreciative audience looked on at the Friends of the Chinatown Library Awards dinner on June 3, 2005, Jack Hom presented five $1,500 college scholarship awards to qualified students and recalled his own humble beginnings emigrating from Canton, China at the age of 13 to join his father in San Diego.

As with many young immigrants, Jack's options were limited. In 1932, he began as a house boy in Chula Vista where he lived for a year and began to develop fluency in English, then he worked at his father's restaurant in San Diego. At the early age of 16, while still in high school, he left home determined to make it on his own. He worked 14 hour days as a dish washer for $20 a month until he completed his high school education in 1938. At the age of 20, he was offered a job in a gambling house but rejected it as not a life for him. Instead, Jack sought wider opportunity in Pasadena where he found work in another Chinese restaurant. Within ten months, Jack had learned all the facets of operating a restaurant and decided to run his own business. By 1939, he had saved $900 and with courage and determination, he opened Mee Hung Inn, a Chinese restaurant located in the Los Feliz area.

After running this restaurant successfully for 4 years, Jack was called to serve in World War II. He volunteered for the United Air Corps pilot training program. He trained as a radio operator mechanic and became a radio instructor in the Army from 1943 to 1946. Afterwards, he returned to his restaurant business.

Jack also raised a large family. He married Dorothy and they had 2 children, a son and a daughter. When Jack's sister died in 1956, she left behind 8 children. Jack and Dorothy took on the immense responsibility of raising and educating his sister's 5 girls and 3 boys, along with their own 2 children in their home. At the same time, Jack was running a restaurant and studying investments.

After 25 years in the restaurant business, he concluded the road to financial security was not in the restaurant business. In 1959, he started a new goal toward financial security by learning about the stock market. While still working full time, Jack read books on financial investments and stocks. He read Technical Analysis of Stock Trends by Edwards and Magee five times before he thoroughly understood how to make his own investments. Jack's broker at Merrill Lynch told people, "In my 16 years in the brokerage business, I have never seen anyone like him." The broker advised Jack to register as an investment advisor. Word of Jack's knowledge and successful investment skills spread and soon people came to his restaurant for investment advice. With the encouragement of his wife, Dorothy, he eventually became a registered investment advisor in 1966.

The lease for his restaurant expired in 1968, after 29 years at the Los Feliz location. He started another take-out restaurant in LA Chinatown, but sold the lease when no family member showed interest in running the business.

Jack retired from the restaurant business and for 10 years, he pursued personal interests at leisure. He traveled, cooked gourmet dishes, and golfed. But he wanted to be gainfully employed again. At the age of 60 and with only a high school diploma, Jack received an offer to be a stock broker. Due to Jack's experience, the brokerage office manager waived all formal training requirements in his job offer. From 1978 - 1988, Jack distinguished himself as a broker for some of the most prestigious brokerage firms in Los Angeles. Following his second retirement in 1988, Jack devoted his life to assisting charitable organizations with investments.

In 1992, Jack donated $102,000 to establish a Friends of the Chinatown Library Scholarship Endowment Fund for graduating high school seniors who would be entering their first year of college. Each $1,500 scholarship was awarded to a Chinatown Library user based on financial need, academic achievement and community service. Jack's endowment fund has benefited 60 college bound students since its inception in 1992. Jack also manages 3 other endowment funds for the Friends which support the Homework Center, the Children's Books and Programs, and the Chinese Heritage Collection at the Chinatown Branch Library.

In 1999, the National Philantrophy of America honored Jack with a special Community Inspiration Award for his dedication, service, and love for his family, community and country.

The Friends of the Chinatown Library would like to take this opportunity to thank Jack Hom, not only for managing our endowment funds, but also for setting an outstanding example in his personal life and financial contributions to help other people. We look forward to honoring him again when he presents more scholarships to students at the each awards dinner.

NOTE: It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Jack Hom on Thursday 25 August 2011. Jack was a generous donor for nearly 20 years to the Friends Scholarship Program. He will be greatly missed.