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Remembering Mr. Laurence Tam

Tam Sir passed away on  March 22, 2013 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Dr. John Tan, Principal, Wahyanites and friends share their thoughts on Tam Sir:

 

I'm so sad to hear this. I visited him only last week and he was in good spirit. Soon after leaving his room, I was hoping to get advice from him later about the future direction of the development of our School's New Senior Secondary visual art curriculum (we are just in the first year of implementation). What a big loss to Wah Yan and Wahyanites, and to the art and education sectors of HK. Will pray for him and Mrs Tam.

John K Tan


Collection of links in this article


Dear all,
Just learned Tam Sir passed away last night.
David Koo (62)


So sorry to receive the sad news about Tam Sir.  I have just talked to Dr. Kevin Tong.  He will contact Margaret and see what we can do to help.  Let us all pray for Tam Sir.

Michael Leung (62)


I am saddened to hear that another great teacher, Mr. Larence Tam,  has left this world.  Tam taught me physics in Form 3, and I will forever remember his teachings.  My earlier career as a scientist was greatly influenced by the fine teachers at Wah Yan College Kowloon.  I was fortunate enough to have reacquainted with Mr. Tam a few years ago in Toronto.  He kindly presented one of his books to me, and it is currently treasured in the library at Manitoba's Government House.  At this time, my thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Tam's family, friends, colleagues and students. He was a good teacher, a scholar and an artist. We shall all miss him.
 
The Honourable Philip S. Lee, C.M., O.M.,LL.D.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba


It is indeed sad news. Passing away is a life process which no one can escape. We all hope to pass away peacefully. He will be remembered as an educator, a man with vision, and a man who pursues his dreams to the end. We borrow his positive energy and move forward.

- David Wong (64) from Toronto


I remember that two weeks ago you and I were witnessing the most impressive speech given by Tam Sir, who was temporarily released from hospital, at the book launching ceremony organized by the Education Bureau. He spoke with a strong conviction on the effects of local art on art education, winning immediate standing ovation from the audience.  I am greatly saddened at the news of his sudden departure within such a short spell!  We shall miss him forever! He shall be remembered by his students and friends!  I am greatly indebted to him for appointing me as the class-monitor of Form 1C in 1959-60 when he was my Form-master.

May Tam Sir rest in peace in Heaven.  Hope his innovative approach in teaching traditional Chinese ink painting will be further developed in the local schools, especially at Wah Yan.

Please let me know the funeral arrangement.  Meanwhile, I shall pass the sad news to my classmates in Canada.

In Christ,

Anthony Poon


A poem to honor our respected teacher Tam Sir:

A marvelous Pope has just been born to bless the world
What a pity to hear the passing away of one of God's pearls
Our hearts yearn to the good old days which left our trail
With Tam Sir's footprints at Wah Yan where we learned
May our Heavenly Father continue to bless all the saints
Even though one by one many have crossed the plains
The loving students of Tam Sir will remember him like wings
That soar above the yonder as the Pope with hope He brings.

In loving memory.

By Yu Fong Lun, Philip (61) from N.J.,U.S.A.


Tam Sir was a gentle, dedicated and capable teacher who was loved and respected by many of us for over 50 years. His life has been a success. May our prayers be with him.

Michael Lee (61) from Edmonton


Dear All,

This is one respectful student's understanding of Tam Sir's life.

Tam Sir's life revolved around Art. He was a visual art teacher-cum-artist; an art museum curator; a patron of HK artists; an educator with a theory of using  a combination of Chinese ink and geometry to educate; a champion of HK art, especially the school founded by Lu Shou Kun; as well as a historian of HK art. He must have taken pride in seeing his art education theory recognized and spread, in promoting modern Chinese ink painting, and in seeing his artistic students flourish. He was a loyal Wahyanite for he credited the school with providing him with a congenial teaching and learning environment, and with being "the cradle of new Chinese ink painting movement", both in fostering the school of modern Chinese ink and in nurturing students' artistic talent large or small. During his years In Wah Yan Kowloon, he was also a teacher of English.

May he rest in peace in the land and art he loved so much.

Yu Fong-ying (61) from Vancouver


Dear All,

This is a very sad news.

But look at his accomplishment. We knew him before he got married. He was one of the most respected teachers of our time. He had been growing old together with us intercepting in life in many ways and always linked back to Wah Yan Kowloon. He had so many students spanning decades and now would call him brother, friend, teacher and mentor.  His Style of teaching Arts has become  a recognized specialty and capable of installing creativity in young students. Let us not only to morn his passing but to celebrate his accomplishment in life. May Tam Sir rest in Peace and forever in the love of our Lord.

Albert Young (62) from L.A.


It is indeed very sad for me to hear of Tam Sir's passing.  

I was very very fortunate to have had him as my Form Master in 3D (1962-63) - any of my 3D classmates reading this would no doubt agree - Tam Sir was such a perfect gentleman.  He taught us English and math.  I also had him as my math teacher in 4D.  Combining the two years, I practically had my math foundations built on his teachings and guidance.  Although I am not an engineer, my math foundations are solid, thanks to Tam Sir.  You remember how Forms 3 and 4 were like - he never raised his voice at us, not even once. 

Then of course, we all know about his ceaseless dedication to his work in the visual arts of Chinese painting, and his passion of its promotion to every child who went through WYK during his era, and later to the general public in Canada and in HK.  He literally died in his work in Hong Kong.

Because of him, the U. of A. and every school in Edmonton with a Chinese Immersion or Bilingual Program now has a set of his books "The Cradle of New Chinese Ink Painting Movement" in Chinese and in English.

I still have a couple of sets left, which I will arrange to be donated to the brand new Edmonton Public Library (just moved to a modern new building), and to a branch where there is a large local Chinese population in the community.

How does one say good bye to a beloved teacher?  I am out of words, except for a silent prayer for God's blessings, for his eternal peace, and for blessings to his family.

I will arrange to send, on behalf of all WYK65 members in Canada and in the US, a floral arrangement to his memorial service/funeral in H.K.  Will be keeping a close eye on the announcement of its date and location.  If anyone learns of this announcement, please advise me right away or send me the link, because I don't have much time to keep checking while at work.  Thanks.

It's Easter time, may the good Lord welcome our beloved Tam Sir into His loving embrace and take him through the eternal joy and peace of the Resurrection.

God bless all,

Vincent PC Lee (65) from Edmonton


As a tribute to our beloved Tam Sir, I have collected the following links on him.  RIP Tam Sir.  Feel free to distribute this freely.

News on his passing: http://blogcity.me/blog/reply_blog_express.asp?f=DGM8WHZ94I120821&id=523739

Publication of his book, his final project: http://www.singtao.com.hk/yesterday/edu/0309go03.html

His life story in his own words:

http://www.ied.edu.hk/iedehp/repository/20091112_NCE_TamChiShing/doc/20091112_Transcription_tcs.pdf

Victor Young (62) from H.K.


Thanks Victor.

Reading the articles and looking at the photos wetted my eyes and jerked my heart ! On this sad occasion, my thoughts are with Tam Sir and it is still difficult to take in that we will see his smiling face no more at our regular gatherings.

I will certainly miss him a lot !

Via con Dios, Tam Sir, may you rest in peace !!!

With fondest memories from a devoted student,

Alex Mak (62) from H.K.


Tam Sir has never taught me but  I never failed to notice that he is always a gentle, courteous and kind gentleman, a very model of a sage who devoted his attention to teaching in Wah Yan.   I have the following poem for those who feel grieving for the loss of a very good former teacher.  Perhaps, that might be the few last words Tam Sir would like say to us all. 

Do not stand on my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
Like  hurried birds urgently taking flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand on my grave and cry.
I am not there.
I did not die.  (by Mary Elizabeth Frye)

So , like all those good teachers such as Mr. Wilson Hsieh and  Fr. O'Neil who passed away before him, he will still live vividly in our hearts.

My condolences to all members of Tam Sir's Family,

Kind regards,
Daniel Lee (1960)


Here are some of my memories of Tam Sir:

A young, energetic teacher:
In order to liven up his lessons, sometimes he used tongue twisters.
There is one example I never forget: "Woodchucker chucked wood.  How much wood would woodchucker chuck?"  Tam Sir could deliver the sentences very fast without mistakes.  Up to now, I still can't do it well myself.  Because of this instance, me and my elder brother ('60 grad also taught by Tam Sir) nicknamed him "Woodchucker".  Not sure whether this is a commonly-shared nickname for Tam Sir among other classmates or not.

My love of Algebra:
I had some very bad experience when I was taught Arithmetic before I entered Wah Yan.  So naturally, I hated Arithmetic.
However, my attitude changed when Tam Sir taught us Algebra in Form 2.  His explanation was very clear and I could understand everything he taught us.  He was very patient and helpful even after classes.  I remember I used to stay behind after school and worked on some of the textbook problems that were not assigned by him.  Whenever I got stuck, I would collect a number of those problems and then go to the staff room and asked Tam Sir for help.  He was very patient and explained the solutions to me.  Perhaps I was overeager.  There was one instance when another teacher sitting next to him said to me: "Mr Tam needs rest.  Why don't you ask him during his classes?"  Tam Sir just smiled gently.
From then on, because of Tam Sir, Ho Sir and Choy Sir, I gradually fell in love with Maths instead of hating it.

A warm and caring person:
I overindulge myself when I eat.  On several occasions when I was talking to him over the phone and complaining about stomach indigestion because I ate too much, he would say: "Hin-Shing, I'm worried about you.  You should eat more moderately.  The way you're indulging yourself in bad food is not healthy at all."  (Ho Sir is also worried about how I eat.)

A good friend:
While he was in Toronto, Tam Sir got to know one of my former clients, Mr Al Chen.  Both liked to collect art work in painting and calligraphy.  Sometimes they would invite me to join them for lunches.  They would talk about new discoveries or acquisitions.  I found their conversation quite interesting though I didn't know much about either painting or calligraphy.

One common interest I had with Tam Sir was our love of music.  I used to burn lots of music pieces for Tam Sir and Si-Moe - western classical music, traditional Chinese music and popular songs.  Both he and Si-Moe enjoyed listening to the pieces I recorded for him.  On many occasions, he said to me: "Hin-Shing, thanks for recording all these wonderful pieces for us.  We love and treasure them.  We listen to them for hours."

After he went back to Hong Kong, I corresponded with Tam Sir via email.  Once he asked about Mr Chen.  He specifically asked me to phone Mr Chen up and say hello.  Which I did.  Unfortunately, when I phoned, Mr Chen's son answered and said his dad was not feeling well and had to go to the hospital in the next hour or so.  Mr Chen passed away shortly after.  When I relayed the sad news to Tam Sir, he was very sad.  Tam Sir always referred to the three of us as "lo yau kee" (good friends).

Dear Tam Sir, I miss you! My thoughts and prayers are for Si-Moe and her family.

Hin-Shing Wong (61) from Toronto


I am so sad to hear the passing of Tam Sir. He is my most respected and loving teacher of Wah Yan. 
It is the great loss to all of us Wah Yan Boys, his family, our society, the art world, the present and the future generations.
We are proud and lucky to have such a great teacher in our lives.
I last saw and yum cha with Tam Sir and Sie-Mo at Tin Shui Wai and at the 2011 HK Jubilee Reunion.
I'll always remember Tam Sir. 

Gilbert Chinn (61) from Vancouver


I had not been taught by Tam Sir.  However from all our e-mail correspondences and our Jubilee gathering I understood that he is most adorable and put his students to the front of his attentions.  May he rest in peace and assured that he had accomplished much with all his might.  Let him be our model for those of us who are going the same paths that he had treaded before us.  Be it Art, Mathematics, Music, Chinese Painting , Calligraphy or other  items that he excels in, we are blessed with an admirable role model.

My condolences with 'See Mo' and his family. 

Leonard Leung (61)


I remember Tam Sir. It must be in Form 2.
He walks into our class which is in chaos, as usual. Flying paper planes, loud noises and laughter filled the room.
He is our new teacher. First time for us. He paid no particular attention to what we are up to. Put his things down on his desk, pick up a chalk and draw this on the board.
He then turns, looks at us and wait for us to calm down.
That works. All are quiet. He captures our attention.
He then tells us who he is. Tell us to pick up a piece of paper and draw as much as we can, patterns based on that on the board.
Interesting… we scratch our heads and try our best.
Most of us come up with different kinds or shapes of knives.
He surveys our work in his usual coolness. Then he shows us, on the board, an amazing array of different beautiful objects using the same initial pattern.
He got our attention for the rest of our WYK years. 

Edwin Tse (65) from Ottawa


There were not too many classes I took from Mr. Tam.  He seemed to be a substitute teacher when I was at WYK and taught us the odd art classes.  His chalk board drawings impressed me as neat and pleasing.  

He sat beside me at a WYKAAO dinner in Toronto several years ago before he moved back to HK.  Some alumnus at the table boasted about his high-performance consultancy profession after I replied to him about what I did.  Mr. Tam collectedly commented on his probably lucrative job, subtly putting him in a more sobering mood.  I thought that Mr. Tam was cool then; he really was excellent in putting people in the right place without delusion or deception. 

On the WYKAAO site some time ago, Mr. Ho reported on Mr. Tam's good health progress in HK.  I was at a loss yesterday when stumbling onto the news on the WYKAAO online report. 

We all miss Mr. Tam in some way. 

YK Chan (65) from Ottawa


YK, 

Thank you for informing us about Mr. Tam's transition to the spiritual side.

We will all miss him. The last time I saw Mr. Tam was at a dinner in Hong Kong when Mr. Ho and Andrew Tang were in town.

Stephen Lee (65)


Thanks for sharing the news. I guess there's no compromise when one's number is up. Good to know that he left peacefully and without much suffer. I'm sure he's in God's good hands now. 

Ron Tse (67) from Toronto


Mr. Lawrence Tam was one of the kindest and most respected teachers whom I met during my student days in WYK. He was always a gentleman. I was surprised to meet him (with his U of T friends) one day (probably around 1975) on Dundas Street in Toronto's old China Town area and greeted him. He didn't recognize my face then but my name seemed to ring a bell with him. I learned that he was a university student at U. Of Toronto graduating from museum science studies, and I was impressed that he could drop his teaching career after so many years with WYK and be a student again to follow his passion or interest! I really appreciate his presence in most WYK PSA functions. May Mr. Lawrence Tam rest in peace, God Bless, and I would like to offer condolences to the Tam family!

Don Yau (65) from Calgary


I know Tam Sir during the years he was in Canada through the activities organized by the WYK alumni association in Ontario. He was always energetic and passionate about his work, whether it was a brief presentation or a large-scale project like The Cradle of New Chinese Ink Painting Movement exhibitions. Tam Sir had always been an active participant in various functions; he kept close connections with our members and the associations after he returned to Hong Kong in 2009. Tam Sir had been a regular contributor to our website with his reports from Hong Kong; Tam Sir will be dearly missed by all of us.

Jeff Mah (78) from Markham, Ontario


Dear fellow WYK artists, classmates and friends, with profound sadness we bid our beloved Tam Sir a final farewell. 

In addition to his groundbreaking contributions to art education of which we are all beneficiaries, Tam Sir was also one of the most creative, influential and prolific artists of his generation. At this moment of his passing, I would like to share with everyone a collection of his own art creations. 

As you are well aware, it has been a hallmark of Tam Sir’s art teachings to put overwhelming emphasis on originality and creativity over imitation and copying. For this reason, he almost never showed us any of his own paintings in class, out of concern of having the students’ creative thoughts preempted or contaminated, consciously or subconsciously. The recently concluded “Cradle” Exhibition tour of the student’s work during his 15-year tenure at WYK (1956-1971) bears testimony to the effectiveness of Tam Sir’s unique and revolutionary approach. 

As an ultra-enthusiastic (borderline fanatical) student of ink painting during my WYK years, I went back to the WYK art room to work on my paintings over almost every weekend in the early 70s. On many occasions, I met Tam Sir there working on his own paintings. I was able to observe the creation of some of his masterpieces from conception to finish. His style and techniques totally captivated me and deeply influenced my own paintings - precisely what Tam Sir warned us against. You can observe evidence of that in all of my 5 paintings in the Cradle exhibition, they were blatant copies of Tam Sir’s own paintings, both in style and in technique! It was everything against what Tam Sir stood for and preached in class.  You may not be aware of it, since you probably have not seen many of Tam Sir’s own paintings. 

Tam Sir has repeatedly warned me against it, but once a young mind has been preempted and preoccupied (polluted, you may say,) it proved immensely difficult to eradicate imageries of Tam Sir’s paintings from my mind. It impeded my own ability to create original art. This is all too evident when my paintings are compared to the highly original and creative work of my fellow classmates in the Cradle exhibition collection. In this regard I have failed Tam Sir in one of his most cherished core teachings. 

About a year or two ago, I asked Tam Sir if he had maintained a compilation of all the paintings he has done in his distinguished career as an artist, he replied that he indeed had, and he sent me a CD containing images of all paintings and drawings he created during his career, ranging from pencil drawings dating back to 1961, to watercolors in 1962/63, to traditional Chinese ink paintings around 1966-1968 (including one with the incomparable calligraphic inscriptions by our late WYK Chinese teacher 劉繼業,) eventually developing into his own unique style of ink painting he was so well known for, typified by his 1969 “Moonscape” painting which coincided most fittingly with the first Apollo landing on the moon that year. 

This collection of paintings represents a second legacy of Tam Sir, in addition to his legacy in art education through his revolutionary approach to teaching of Chinese ink painting.  As a tribute to Tam Sir at this moment of his passing I would like to share with all of you this collection of Tam Sir’s lifetime art creations in his memory and for your enjoyment. 

The document Tam Sir sent to me on a CD contains 37 pages, each with one or more images of his paintings or drawings, 71 paintings and drawings in total, each with its own caption indicating the year it was composed, and exhibitions where they have appeared in, and the present collector of the work, either by individuals, institutions or museums. I think you will find this treasure trove of Tam Sir’s life work in creative art most captivating. Let us celebrate Tam Sir’s life and achievements with this collection. 

The original 37-page document Tam Sir sent to me has a file size of 320Mb, it cannot be emailed. Instead of going through the trouble of setting up a URL onto which the file can be uploaded and have it accessible to everyone, I decided it is simpler to just create a gmail account and upload the files onto it which you can access. For that, I broke the original 37-page file into 37 separate pdf docs, each a page of the original doc. 

To access the collection go to gmail,
login name – laurencetamcollection (one word, no space)
password – TamSir1933-2013 (no space and case sensitive) 

There are 37 messages in the inbox, each with a pdf attachment which is a page of the original document Tam Sir sent to me.  Each page contains one or more of Tam Sir’s drawings/paintings. Most of these 37 pdf docs has a more manageable file size of 10-20Mb, the largest being 57 Mb, you can download them and save them for your collection, pull them out and look at them every now and then and think of Tam Sir. 

I think it is a fitting tribute to Tam Sir at his moment of passing to share this collection with you in his memory and in appreciation of his contributions to art. 

Please forward this to all Cradle artists, organizers, participants and WYK teachers and friends who are not already on this email recipient list.

Thank you. 

Best, Lau Kam Yin (73) from California


I have visited Tam Sir at QEH in Jan.  He was a bit weak at that time with mild shortness of breath.  He gave me a booklet about the 2010 Cradle Exhibition.

I also attended the ceremony for the launching of his new book about 2 weeks ago in TST.  I did not greet him as there were a lot of people and he was on the stage.  He appeared to become weaker and had increased shortness of breath as compared with the time in Jan when I met him.

However, he spoke for about 20 minutes on the stage in wheelchair. His work and contribution to the development of arts in Hong Kong is very well recognised.

Although I did not do much painting during my studies at WYK, I felt that we have been lucky to have him as our arts teacher in those days.

Hope he will rest in peace.

Tam Cheuk Man (73)


Deeply sorry to hear the news of Tam Sir had passed away.
We will keep him and his family in our prayers and may God grant him peace in heaven!
In Christ & Mary, 

Simon & Cecilia Tsang (62)


I remembered our class (Form 1C?) was assigned to 譚 Sir the first year when he and 何 Sir came to Wah Yan and we immediately created an unflattering nickname for him (Platypus - kids at that age then were quite unmerciful!!). Later on, I got to know him somewhat more when he was recruited by 蔡 Sir to help out in the school's scouting leadership. He was very modest, friendly, energetic, and eager to teach and participate in both his classroom and scouting activities. I remembered we did have a few good laughs when he and 何 Sir went for their first camping experience with my fellow scouting teammates during the annual Christmas holidays. 

I have not met or spoken to him ever since I graduated from HKU and went abroad but I have followed his fervent art education pursuits and accomplishments and his recent illness through Hin Shing's e-mails. I believe all of us have missed a great teacher and friend and Hong Kong has lost a giant pioneer in the art and painting education. I have gleaned the following when I Googled  譚 Sir just now and it was really touching when I read what he proclaimed on the occasion of the publication his latest book (3/9/2013). I am sure more accolades of him will come forth in the future. 

http://paper.takungpao.com/html/2013-03/18/content_35_3.htm 

http://paper.takungpao.com/html/2013-03/18/content_35_1.htm 

沈志洪 (61)


Dear (Alex) Mak,

Thanks for your two emails and attachments of celebration in honour of Tam Sir. He must have felt very honoured to be remembered by all of you former Wah Yan Kowloon students.

Best regards,

Fr. Tseng (59-60; 66-67) from Singapore


Tam Sir was really a forever missed gentleman, true artist, great teacher and educator. While I was attending the University of Toronto(U of T), Mr. Tam was attending his Master of Museology at the Massey College, U of T, Canada. We had dinners(very private and good quality time) together in Massey College and chinatown from time to time. After completing his Master of Museology and before we said goodbye to each other in Toronto, he said to me the following:
 
"There is no need to be sad when departing, the friendship between gentlemen should always be as diluted as water".
 
To me, Mr. Lawrence Tam was always very HUMBLE, OPEN, ARTISTIC, OPTIMISTIC, CARING and WILLING TO LISTEN.
 
God Bless Mr. Laurence Tam and may God make Tam Sir rest in peace.
 
- Frederick Fung (72)


Tam Sir, We Miss You 

Tam Sir first taught me in my Form 2 year in 1957-58, when he was one of the intern teachers (Ho Sir (Anthony) was another one). At that time, being a bit naughty, I did not appreciate him so much as a good teacher (but of course he was a good teacher), but I did see him a very serious and hard working man. I think he taught me Form 3 and Form 4 too, but I cannot remember too clearly. May be other classmates like Wong Hin Shing can recall in more details. Then I left Wah Yan and HK in 1961 after the School Cert Examination. 

I didn’t see Tam Sir for many years until in the 1990’s when I saw him a couple of times in Toronto, together with Ho Sir and other WYK schoolmates. 

Many years again passed by until the class of 1961’s Golden Jubilee Reunion on November 11, 2011. We met again. Following the Reunion, Chen York Lung and I visited him in Tin Shui Wai (天水圍) on 15 Nov. It was on this very visit that my admiration and appreciation for Tam Sir really flourished. 

York and I drove to Tin Shui Wai and after some difficulty, found the restaurant (福滿樓, I think) in Ginza Plaza (银座廣場) where Tam Sir and Sie Mo were already there waiting for us patiently. We chatted for almost 2 hours before they gave us a guided tour of Tin Shui Wai and explained the fine town planning and public facilities of the neighborhood and the nice environment that was around him. We took many pictures together. The tour totally changed our (wrong) perception of TSW because we were, like most HK people, misled by the media that TSW was a pathetic, miserable community full of problems, poverty and suicides. What we saw was nothing like that at all. Tam Sir remarked a few times that had he not found such a nice home in TSW, he would not have left Toronto to return to HK. 

After the guided tour, Tam Sir took us to his home which was located adjacent to the HK Wetland Park. His flat was on thirty some odd floor and so he had a fantastic view of the Park and nearby scenic areas. He even gave me a panoramic photo of the view as seen from his verandah (see photo). Then SieMo treated us afternoon tea of fruit and pastries. We talked and talked and finally we dwelled on his favorite subject – Chinese Ink Painting – which I knew nothing about. To help me learn to appreciate a bit more, he gifted me an expensive looking Album of hundreds of pages of his work titled “The Cradle of New Chinese Ink Painting Movement”. I wanted to pay for the Album but he only asked me to make a donation of $1200 to Wah Yan Kowloon (through the Fr. Kelly Education Fund). He even autographed on the Album for me (see attached photos). I felt greatly privileged and was deeply impressed by his generosity and selflessness. The meager donation later led me to sponsor further projects in Wah Yan, thanks to Tam Sir for showing me the way to express my gratitude to my alma mater. 

As Tam Sir still engaged himself quite heavily with voluntary work, we bade him and SieMo farewell at around 6 pm but we promised that we would come back again soon to revisit them and to see the Wetland Park. 

In about a week’s time, we came back. This time we added Chan Yiu Man, Andrew Man and his wife, Chan York Lung and his sisters, Freddy Fong and another friend who was not a WYK student. This time we basically repeated last visit’s routine (lunch, tour of TSW, picture taking,  home visit etc) with the company of Tam Sir and Sie Mo so that the new visitors could see the true TSW for themselves. Then we went to the Wetland Park. But Tam Sir could not join us because he had work to do and deadline to meet. So we parted in front of the Wetland, and alas, that was the last sight we had of Tam Sir!

A few months later we heard of his illness and we dare not disturb him and so I did not call him. Later we heard that he was in the good expert hands of some WYK old boys and I was a bit relieved and hoping that he could recover soon. 

Then came the shocking news of his passing away a few days ago. That left me wordless. I could only say that he had led such a very full and fruitful life with no regrets. He is respected and loved by his many students. He will be forever in our hearts. Our condolences be with Sie Mo and his family. 

We miss you, Tam Sir. Rest In Peace. 

Richard Li  李景行 (1961)


I am sure we all miss Tam Sir, his teaching, his drawing and he as a person. Since returning to Hong Kong, we did not have chance of seeing him in the last couple of years. He will definitely be in our prayers. 

Stephen Lam (61)


Mr. Tam is a fine specimen of the traditional Chinese gentleman scholar, quietly doing his job with flair, but never flaunting it. He's contributed his fair share to the world and can call so many of his students friends. A performance that is hard to beat. So I don't see this as a sad farewell. 

But it does remind one of one's limits of time...... 

Raymond Lau 劉漢傑 (62) from Vancouver


Just got off the cruise ship in Florida and heard of the sad news.

Tam Sir taught me Form 1 drawing and he directed a play where myself and Andrew Tseung were in the cast. It was a good play and we worked very hard with Tam Sir on the play.

A couple of years ago, we Wah Yan old boys in Toronto staged the Cradle Exhibition in the Chinese Cultural Centre for a week. It was very successful and Tam Sir was very pleased with the outcome. We got one of our local Members of Parliament to pronounce the event in the Ontario Legislature and it is now there as a permanent record. 

The last time I saw him was at our 61 Grad 50 years anniversary in Hong Kong in 2011 and he was healthy and fine. 

We had a lot of gatheings with Tam Sir in Toronto when he was living here.

He will certainly be missed. 

Michael Kwok-Wai Chan (61) from Toronto


I was so glad that I talked to Tam Sir from Chicago before he passed away. I got his number from Ignatius Tong Goon Ngai. The purpose of the call was to thank him for educating me and making me of whom I am today.

Truly, without Wah Yan and without Tam Sir, I might be a different person.

Hilary Cheng (68) [dentist] from Chicago


In Memoriam of Our Tam Sir 

For whom the bell tolls  ring ring ring .... Mr. Tam, R.I.P. 

By the fire side in our camp fire we sang.... 

For he is a jolly good fellow
      For he is a jolly good fellow
            For he is a jolly good fellow

and so said all of us ..... 

Patrick Hsu ( Hercules , California) (62) 


Admiration of Tam Sir 

I didn't have that much chance to interact with Tam Sir, probably only got one class taught by him.

But how many people can start a new genre of painting. It's really  admirable.

Bob Shen (62)


Ah, yes!  Two years ago in mid Nov Richard, Freddy & I with others paid Tam Sir a visit in Tin Shui Wei.  That was a memorable trip since that was the first and only time I saw Tam Sir after our graduation.

We had such a good time and I found him not only in good health but also in full steam in his lifelong pursuit for art. 

Frankly when Tam Sir taught me in '57, '58 I was at a time that I didn't think much of my teachers.  It must be because that he (& Ho Sir) was young and fresh from Northcote Teachers' College which I didn't find in other teachers that I was drawn to him more and he left a long lasting impression on me.  Even that he taught me math and physics he let us be known from the start in his devotion to art.  Later York Chen and I joined the Art Club.  The most memorable moment was that we were in the make-up crew when the school staged Gilbert & Sullivan's operetta Pirates of Penzance. 

More than half a century went by almost unnoticed and my feeling was that at our meeting we were still so close to one another.  We all had such a great time. 

Amazing! 

Well, Tam Sir, another shining example among my teachers.  May you rest in peace. 

Yiu Man Chan ('61)


It’s very gratifying to see Kowloon Wah Yan students being so deferential and respectful towards a teacher’s passing.  This is evident when Fr. Reid, Mr. Francis Kong and Mr. Wilson Hsueh passed away.  And now, Mr. Laurence Tam.  I knew these 4 personally, very good friends of mine.  I too share with Margaret, her family and the Wah Yan boys at their loss. 

I first knew Laurence when he joined Wah Yan in 1956.  As far as I remember, he was always a typical Chinese gentleman, soft spoken, well mannered, and very particular and ‘long-winded’.  I have always admired his artistic talents, always try to steal a little secret talent from him, but he always answered with the same phrase “Just draw what you see and you’ll have the picture you want.”  When asked how to perfect a bunch of bananas in drawing, he replied, “Just clutch your fingers and draw!!  If you say it is bananas, it is bananas.  Practise drawing the same picture everyday and one day, you’ll succeed.”  I still haven’t perfected the bananas yet. 

I have one piece of Mr. Tam’s ‘art’ which I like to share with you here.  To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Maryknoll Convent Former Students (Ont.) Inc. in 2009, we had a mug distributed to each of our members.  On the mug was a picture of the school building, but it had to be a picture drawn in pencil, not a photographic copy.  Laurence came to our rescue.  He produced the drawing to the requirement of the kiln manager.  He was so meticulous with his work of art that he corrected it numerous times, but at the very end, he was still not satisfied!  The Maryknollers, on the other hand, treasure the mug to this day. 

Now that Laurence has gone home to his Father, he has no more ‘helpless vagabonds’ pestering after him for favours. 

He has earned his peace now.

Gertrude Chan (former teacher of Maryknoll Convent School)


We missed Tam Sir very much. It's his sincere warmth coupled with his talents and dedications to Wahyanties, and his art contributions to the HK society. Several people already mentioned that he and Mrs Tam toured us in his village of TinSuiWai twice despite he was terribly busy trying to finsih his last book.

Three ladies attended. One is Terri who is Freddy Fong's wife. One lady is Alice LaiSee who is my younger sister. She was the piano accompanist for Hsueh Sir and Winnie Wei at Toronto's WahYan 80/75 Gala recital some years ago. The other lady is Diana Chen, my elder sister. 

May Tam Sir rest in Peace. May God bless him and his family and friends. 

YorkLoon (61) from San Diego 


 

Allow me to share with you a photo that was taken in the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver a few years ago.  Mr. Tam held an art exhibition in our city which turned out to be a success.  May he rest in peace. 

Larry Yip (67) from Vancouver


 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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