THE REV. FRANK CHONG / 1944-2008
Activist sought ‘social justice’ for the poor
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The Rev. Frank A. Chong, a minister, social activist, health care executive and lobbyist, is remembered as one of the state's most articulate advocates for the poor and the disenfranchised.
"He had such a way of drawing the mental pictures that could inspire and nudge you along," said Maui Democratic Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who gave a remembrance of Chong on the Senate floor Monday.
Chong, a familiar face at the Legislature as a lobbyist for social and health causes, died Sunday. He was 63.
He also compiled the "Legislative Action Pages," an authoritative guide to the Hawaii Legislature. Lobbyist Chris Pablo, who had served with Chong on several campaigns with the American Cancer Society, recalled that Chong's guide was a road map for the state Capitol.
"This place is like a little city, and he had a lot of the intelligence that you needed to navigate it," Pablo said. "I count myself as among the many lobbyists who found it to be a great resource."
Chong managed government and community relations at AlohaCare, a health plan under MedQuest, for the past five years.
For 25 years before that, Chong was executive director of the Waikiki Health Center, a nonprofit agency that serves at-risk, hard-to-reach populations such as runaways, homeless youth, seniors and the working poor. In 2003 he was named Social Worker of the Year by the Hawaii chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
Chong was associate minister of Community Church of Honolulu before leading the Waikiki Health Center.
The Rev. Kim On Chong, the late chaplain of Mid-Pacific Institute, was Chong's father, and, according to his sister, Elly Chong, Frank was inspired by his father's passion for social justice.
"I remember Dad took Frank and me out of high school back in the '60s to go to a rally that was coordinated with the march in Selma (Ala.) for integration," Elly Chong said. "My father was a living example of social justice, and Frank inherited that same spirit."
Another of Chong's sisters, Joy Chong-Stannard, recalled that social activism was Chong's life: "It was nonstop with Frank. There was the church, social work, community work. He was a big role model for me."
In his 2001 legislative guide, Chong directed social service advocates to "always believe in people," adding, "Our job is to empower people to live out those dreams that they dream."
A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Central Union Church.
Chong is survived by wife Sherry; mother Pearl; sisters Barbara Jeanne Gossard, Eleanor "Elly" Chong and Joy Chong-Stannard; two nephews; and two nieces.