Johann Ngoh-Han Koo, 85 of Alameda, CA went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, June 6, 2019.
He was born on February 14, 1934 to Stanley and Wen-Ying Koo in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China and was the oldest of seven children. Johann received his undergraduate degree from Chung Chi College (now the Chinese University of Hong Kong) and received an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley.
Johann is survived by his wife of 54 years, Pauline; daughter, Katherine Ng and her husband Richard of Castro Valley, CA.; son Keith and his wife Sueying of Fremont, CA; grandchildren, Jessica, Jennifer, Olivia and Orion; brothers, Eugene, Ronald, Kenneth and Howard; sister, Norma Chen; and numerous nieces and nephews. Johann was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Lily Chua.
Johann’s life can be defined as a true “American Dream” success story. His early life was filled with many struggles as well as many miracles. As a young boy he suffered a devastating knee injury that would shape him in many ways including persevering in his deep Christian faith and his compassion towards others. Soon after his injury, the Japanese invasion and occupation of China took place and Johann was thrust with the responsibility of being a pre-teen surrogate father to his siblings while they were fleeing from the Japanese as their father was trapped in the Philippines. After the family was re-united with their father, they once again faced hardships during the hyper-inflation period of China. One year after the communists took control of Shanghai, by God’s grace, Johann’s father and their entire family received a transfer into Hong Kong in May of 1950.
Once settled in Hong Kong, he resumed his secondary studies and continued his love for music as a very gifted violinist playing first chair in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. He and his sister Lily, an accomplished pianist, would often play duets throughout venues in Hong Kong. He continued to play violin with several community orchestras and in his church’s musical programs until his 70s.
After he received his bachelor’s degree, he started his first job working for Standard Chartered Bank. As the eldest son he put his siblings’ needs ahead of his own and sent them off ahead to the United States to start their education while he stayed behind to provide them with financial support. While in Hong Kong he met the love of his life Pauline who he would marry seven years later in Washington D.C. Johann and Pauline made their home in Alameda and raised their family there. Johann loved Alameda and was proud to be a 55+ year resident.
In 1963 Johann began a long career with Kaiser Permanente, working his way up from being a staff accountant for the Northern California Region to overseeing all of Kaiser’s retirement plans for all their employees nationwide. At the time he retired in 1994 he was most proud that he oversaw a multi-billion-dollar retirement fund securing future generations of Kaiser families. Johann loved to spend time with his family and friends. He was actively involved in his church, spending time with his grandchildren, online investing, traveling, listening to classical music, and watching reruns of classic westerns, crime dramas and Chinese soap-operas. He enjoyed volunteering his time teaching English to newcomers to the United States as he was fluent in speaking the Shanghainese, Mandarin and Cantonese dialects of Chinese.
In the early 2000s, Johann was once again reminded of God’s loving hand when he had triple bypass heart surgery. The surgery uncovered a congenital heart defect that would have likely killed him before the age of 35. It was then that he realized that there was purpose to his knee injury that he received as a child.
Per Johann’s wishes, a private visitation for immediate family was held on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at the Greer Family Mortuary in Alameda, CA. Johann loved being a true American and had a deep love for the ocean. He would fondly recall coming to the USA for the first time as a foreign student through the Golden Gate Bridge and that is where his ashes will return.
Donations and memorial contributions in Johann’s memory can be made to the Chinese Independent Baptist Church of Oakland, CA or the Bethel Mission of China, Inc. Pasadena, CA. Those wishing to sign the guest book and relate any fond remembrances may do so online at https://www.greermortuary.com/tributes/Johann-Koo
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