Duane Wong, 63, of Richmond, CA was born in Los Angeles, the son of Judge Delbert and Dolores Wong. Because he was almost a 10 pound new-born baby, a nurse referred to him as “Pudgy,” and the nickname stuck for his entire life. Pudgy was diagnosed last July with cancer of the esophagus and succumbed to the illness on Monday, March 7, 2016. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Joanne Wong, his beloved cat, Cosmos, his sister, Shelley Wong Pitts (Reverend Tyrone), of Alexandria, VA, brothers Kent (Jai) and Marshall of Los Angeles, nephews Sandy Pitts, Ryan and Robin Wong, and nieces Kristin (Dave) and Mari Rasmussen (fiancé Franco), daughters of his in-laws Lesley Kawaguchi and Ken Rasmussen.
Pudgy and his wife own Music Works, an independent musical instrument store in El Cerrito, in business since 1980. They were recently honored by the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band and Workshop for their work in promoting the ukulele in the community. The Wongs had their own country rock band, East Bay Express, for a number of years. Previously Pudgy played with several other country groups in Bay Area nightclubs and throughout Nevada.
Music was always a passion in Pudgy’s life. He played the B Bender Telecaster guitar influenced by his hero, Clarence White, acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar, keyboards, 5 string banjo, electric bass and the mighty ukulele.
He loved to play golf and won many tournaments with the Oakland Chinese Golf Club. Pudge hit a hole-in-one at the fifth hole at Foxtail South (108 yards) in 2011. One of the last courses he was so happy to play was at the beautiful Kapalua Resort at the Plantation Course on Maui.
Pudge was an avid fan of the San Francisco Giants. Joanne and he combined attending Spring Training in Arizona with selling ukuleles and accessories at the Tempe Aloha Festival every year. One of Pudgy’s greatest thrills was attending game 1 of the 2012 World Series watching Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs.
Pudgy’s keen intelligence as well as music and restaurant knowledge will be missed. His near photographic memory of menus and what each person ate at a restaurant are legendary. His gentle sweetness, energy, generosity and deadpan sense of humor can never be replaced.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 26 at 1 p.m. at Sunset View Cemetery followed by a meal at King Valley restaurant. Dress will be casual or Hawaiian. Please RSVP Marshall Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to all of Pudgy’s friends and relatives who gave him comfort and support since learning of his illness. Special thanks to Barbara Saito for attending all of the meetings with Pudgy’s doctors giving us her thoughtful advice from a pharmacist’s point of view. Also thank you to Pudgy’s caregivers over the last few months, especially Tshering Sherpa, as well as the Kaiser Hospice team, especially Rashanda and Carmen Haggett.
In lieu of flowers, Pudgy’s family requests that contributions be made to one of the following organizations:
Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band and Ukulele Lessons or your favorite local ukulele club or organization (http://www.kapalakiko.org)
J-Sei Multi-Generational Community|Care|Culture (http://www.j-sei.org)
Friends of the Chinatown Library (http://www.friendsocl.org)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA (http://advancingjustice-la.org/)
Bernie Sanders for President (https://go.berniesanders.com/page/content/splash)