Chan Shun

A lifetime of giving

Picture Dr. Chan Shun, the businessman and philanthropist in whose honour the Chan Shun Concert Hall in UBC's new performing arts centre is named, died May 25. He was 80.

Chan, who moved from Hong Kong to Vancouver in 1989, was born in Guangzhou, China. He learned early on to sew and to repair sewing machines, and in his teens he bicycled from town to town in southern China selling garments and repairing appliances. He later founded Crocodile Garments Ltd. in Hong Kong, a successful company from which he retired in 1970, leaving the running of the business and the family's charity operations to his children.

Guided by his Christian faith, Chan believed in sharing the benefits of his success with others. He also maintained a keen interest in learning. Often referred to as "a steward of the Lord," he strongly believed that his financial success was a gift from God. He chose a simple life, so that he could conserve, reserve and allocate his resources wisely to support selected medical, educational and cultural projects. During the past 40 years, Chan family foundations have funded more than 100 such projects around the world.

Chan instilled his commitment to philanthropy in his children. UBC was a major benefactor of this, as his sons Tom and Caleb Chan funded the building of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts to honour their father.

At the opening of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts last month, Dr. Tom Chan spoke in his father's absence, saying it is "the worthiness of the cause, not the benefit to the donor" that is the most important aspect of giving.

In 1974, Andrews University in Michigan conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on him in recognition of his contributions to education and humanity.

On May 25, Loma Linda University in California dedicated its Research Centre of the Cancer Institute in Chan Shun's name, in honour of his long-term commitment to education and medicine. A scholarship was also established in Chan Shun's name. He was honoured at this time with the university's Distinguished Humanitarian Award.

He is survived by his wife Eugenia, five children, Tom, Caleb, Helen, Esther and Jacqueline, and 17 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his daughter Pearl.