Dr. Wallace Yau Kee Chang, 99 of Lumberton, NC peacefully passed away at home on January 10th, 2022 surrounded by his family. He was born on September 8th,1922 in Honolulu, Hawaii, the youngest of five children to Elizabeth (Kong) and Phillip Chang.
Wallace was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. After graduating from Wallace Rider Farrington High School. He enrolled in Pre-Med studies at the University of Hawaii, with aspirations of becoming a physician. The goal was interrupted by the events of December 7th, 1941 of Pearl Harbor. A few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wallace joined the Hawaii Territorial National Guard. He served in the Territory Guard for nearly three years until he was drafted into the US Army in September 1944.
After induction into the Army, Wallace immediately went to basic training in Fort Hood, Texas. After basic training as an Infantryman, he eventually received orders to join the 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division in Central Europe in March 1945. Wallace joined the regiment at roughly the time they crossed the Rhine River into Germany. While in the 39th Infantry Regiment, he transitioned from combat infantry to the regimental band as a saxophonist. This marked the beginning of his lifelong professional career as a musician and music educator. Wallace remained a member of the band until the end of the war, rising in stature along the way. He finished his service in the Army as the 39th regiment band leader in Rosenheim, Germany. His Army decorations include The Bronze Star Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge. Wallace also received the Congressional Gold Medal for Chinese-American World War II veteran service.
After the war, Wallace returned to Hawaii and re-enrolled in the University of Hawaii, studying music and using the new GI bill benefits. He was the university's band drum major during college. After graduation, he accepted a position as a music instructor at Punahou School. Wallace was the first oriental ever hired to be an instructor in the history of the prestigious private school. He taught there for seven years until he left to pursue a doctoral degree in Music Education at Columbia University in New York. After receiving his doctorate degree, he was immediately hired to be the music teacher of band and orchestra in Great Neck Public Schools in Long Island, NY. After ten years, he moved to a new position as the Director of Strings in Seaford Public Schools. All through Wallace's teaching career, he frequently returned to the University of Hawaii to teach a summer course in Hawaiian Music and Ukulele playing.
Dr.Chang will best be remembered as an extraordinarily talented musician, loving husband, and father with a gentle kind soul.
He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Merle Caroline Bianchi Chang of Lumberton; a daughter, Caroline L.Jolicoeur (Paul); and a son, Stewart M. Chang (Karen) of Charlottesville VA. His four grandchildren: Carrie, Hunter, Madeline, and Emme. Also surviving is a sister, Miriam Chang Everhardt of Honolulu, HI. Dr.Chang is preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Lydia Tam, and two brothers Godfrey and Howard Chang.
Dr. Wallace Chang was a lifetime member of the American Legion, Kau Tom Post 11, Honolulu, HI, since 1946.
Visitation will be held on January 12, 2022, from 6 PM-8 PM at the Meares Chapel located at 795 Main St, Fair Bluff, NC 28439.
Funeral services will be held on January 13th, 2022 at 10:00 am at the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery, 8220 Bragg Blvd. Ft. Bragg, NC 28310. with military honors.
A service of Boles- Biggs Funeral Home, Lumberton NC.
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