Former University of Washington regent Ark Chin passed away on Sun., Nov. 13, at the age of 87. A World War II veteran, engineering executive and avid philanthropist, Chin was a regent from 1998-2004, serving as board president in 2001-2002.
Chin was born in a small village in Tai Shan, China, and came to the United States at the age of 10. He received both a bachelor’s (1950) and master’s degree (1952) in civil engineering from the UW. His initial schooling at UW was interrupted when he left to fight in World War II, where he was wounded twice and awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. After the war, Chin went to Hong Kong where he met and married Winifred Chung. They moved to Seattle and Chin returned to his studies at UW to complete his degrees.
Chin was president and CEO for the Seattle engineering firm Kramer, Chin & Mayo, Inc., until his retirement in 1989. Active in the community and a strong advocate for education, he was named the First Citizen of Seattle in 1989. Along with his wife of 64 years, Chin established scholarships for students in need at the UW (civil engineering) and Western Washington University. He was a champion for diversity and a long-time supporter of the UW Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMA&D), contributing to OMA&D’s Educational Opportunity Program Scholarship Fund over the span of two decades.
Chin led the fundraising efforts to establish the Kin On Nursing Home that serves elderly Asian-Americans in Seattle. His philanthropic endeavors extended beyond the local community, as he built an orphanage with Winifred in China near the village where he was born.
The recipient of several accolades, Chin was named the Engineer of the Year by the American Council of Engineering Companies in 1987 and Engineer of the Year by the Washington Society of Professional Engineers in 1990. He received the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from the UW College of Engineering in 1992 and the Spirit of America Award by the Ethnic Heritage Council in 1999.
Chin is survived by his wife, six children, 16 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. A memorial service will be held at Butterworth Arthur A. Wright Chapel (520 West Raye Street, Seattle, WA, 98119) on Sat., Nov. 19, at 11 a.m.
A full obituary is available on the Seattle Times web site.