Memorial Services were held for Sarah Pantip Wong on May 25 at the Evergreen Baptist Church San Gabriel Valley located in La Puente. Hundreds of relatives, friends and mourners filled the sanctuary to celebrate Pantip’s life and say a private farewell.
Pastor Kyle Shimazaki officiated the service, but as with the memorial service held in Seattle, WA earlier this month, it was Pantip’s cousins and friends who led the service as they shared their remembrances and memories through stories, music and Pantip’s artwork.
There was a common theme in all the stories, with each speaker mentioning Sarah’s infectious smile, her giggles and deep faith in God. Lauren Tan, who knew Pantip since kindergarten, noted that regardless of how she was feeling, or the situation, “Pantip always knew the right thing to say.” One of her favorite expressions was “leave people better than you found them.”
Kristin Toyota, a classmate from Futures Academy in Pasadena, where Sarah graduated from high school said, “through Sarah, I met some of my closest friends. She would walk right up and say ‘Hi, I’m Sarah’ and friendships were made.”
Patrick Hattick, a fellow student at Seattle Pacific University and member of the Pacific Islanders Club of Cultural Arts (PICCA) which Sarah had joined, spoke of the many acts of unconditional love done by Sarah. Patrick described how after a long night of studying, Sarah might have brought food and snacks back to the dorm for everyone and how he might sometimes return to his room and find his laundry folded.
Referring to PICCA, Patrick went on to say ”Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. “Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. ”Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable. “Sarah embodied the Aloha spirit in every way”
Pastor Kyle Shimazaki noted Sarah’s mission was to put a smile on the face of everyone she met and would leave behind a legacy of faith and love. He was certain that when Sarah arrived at the gates of heaven, the first words she would hear were “well done.”
Immediately following the memorial service, a farmer’s market style reception took place featuring many of Sarah’s favorite foods. Among the treats were spam musabi, teriyaki chicken skewers, fried rice, red velvet cupcakes and Jones coffee.
Sarah Pantip Wong was born December 8, 1999 in Bangkok, Thailand and was cared for by her birth mom the first two and a half months of her life before being placed in a loving foster home. She was adopted by Henry Wong and Andrea Wang in March 2001.
Pantip, “a blessing from the sky,” instantly blessed the Wong family and inherited all the blessings a very large Wong family would give her. She built relationships according to Matthew 5:44 – “love your enemies,” Pantip maintained relationships with all members of her extended family, literally extended, spanning from Texas to British Columbia. She loved creating moments and experiences that told family and friends she valued and loved them. Although she adamantly claimed otherwise, Pantip was a gifted artist and recorded her favorite things through her drawings.
Pantip was a skilled gymnast who trained locally at Payke, later at Vernon Lee Gymnastics and then All Olympia, achieving level 7 in the USA Junior Olympic Program before she was 12 years old. Pantip was an accomplished soccer player and later referee in AYSO 214.
Pantip learned to swim at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center and joined the Sea Tigers in South Pasadena where she managed to avoid competing to the chagrin of one of the coaches. Pantip ended up becoming a swim instructor at the South Pasadena – San Marino YMCA during her senior year of high school.
Pantip performed in numerous musical productions with Theater Experience of SoCal, including School House Rock, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Annie, The Wizard of Oz and High School Musical.
Pantip’s faith communities span from her early years at Evergreen Baptist Church SGV, Sierra Madre Congregational Church and then Seeds of Life in Alhambra before joining the Faith Bible Church in Seattle during her brief time in Seattle. These faith communities were vital parts of her life and she lived out her faith within and outside these communities.
Sarah Pantip Wong is survived by her parents Andrea Wang and Henry Wong and her brother Aaron Wong
Donations in Sarah Pantip Wong’s memory may be made to the following organizations:
Seattle Pacific University
Faith Bible Church
Seeds of Life Church