Cynthia F. Leong G’69 died on May 19, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
(The following appeared was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, May 18, 2017:)
Of Honolulu, an educator, traveler and beloved mother and wife, passed away peacefully on May 19, 2017 in Manoa Valley. She was 88. The eldest of three children, Cynthia Faye Tai Hau Chun was born in Honolulu, spending much of her childhood in Ulupalakua and Hana, Maui before graduating from Benjamin Parker High School in Kane’ohe as senior class president. She attended the University of Hawaii, where she received a B.A. in mathematics and an M.A. in education. At twenty, she married Wallace Tsun Ung Leong, with whom she had five children. In 1957, after working in insurance sales, statistics, and university teaching in mathematics, Cynthia joined Hawaii’s Department of Education as a classroom teacher, also earning a master’s degree in mathematics from Bowdoin College in Maine. In the late 1960s, she became one of only two female public high school administrators in the State of Hawaii, serving as Vice Principal of Roosevelt High School, Kaiser High School, and Kaimuki High School, before retiring in 1984. In an era before world travel was common, she and Wallace undertook dozens of international journeys across Europe, the Americas, and the Pacific. She returned to Asia again and again, attending the first organized tour of Westerners to Xinjiang Province, in China’s far west, and helping to lead the first American group through the Taklamakan Desert. She made friends wherever she went, often keeping in touch for decades. Other hobbies she pursued with zest included quilting, gardening, bridge, and crossword puzzles and other brain-teasers. Cynthia liked to describe herself as “loquacious.” She will be remembered by those who knew her for her exceptional energy, larger-than-life personality, intellectual generosity, spirit of adventure, and mischievous sense of humor. Perhaps most of all, she will be remembered by her family for her loving, remarkable marriage to Wallace Tsun Ung Leong, whom she met at age 18 and married two years later. Their mutual devotion lasted for 68 years. Cynthia Faye Leong is survived by five children, Aletha (Denis) Coleman, Eric (Elinor) Leong, April (Robert Tanaka) Leong, Juliane (Wesley) Inouye, Angele (Norman) Leong; siblings Beryl Chun and Michael Chun; seven grandchildren; and three great- grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Wallace, who passed away in March 2016.