Ernest Kim San Fong, Jr.
1936 - 2013
Ernest Fong, Jr., Ernie to his friends, was called into the healing, loving arms of God on Tuesday, Feb. 26. He lived a full and adventurous life and was very proud of his military service in the Air Force. He traveled much of the world during his 22 years in the service.
Along with his travels and stations of duty, he met his future bride, Eva, in Brindisi, Italy. She was a teacher at San Vito dei Normanni Air Station, where Ernie was stationed. They attended the same base chapel and both sang in the choir.
He was riding alone on a bus to the Trade Fair in Bari, Italy, when a young woman got on the bus looking for a seat. They recognized each other from the choir, and their love story began. They were married in a seminary chapel in Rome a few blocks from St. Peter’s Cathedral. 48 years and four children later, they have shared many memories and adventures together.
After his service time in the Air Force was up, they found themselves falling in love with the sleepy little town of Tehachapi.
They joined the St. Malachy’s Catholic Church family after moving to Tehachapi in 1975, and are still members today. Ernie helped around the church doing whatever needed to be done, including shuttling the elderly to their doctor’s appointments, store runs, or wherever else they needed to go. He made many trips to Bakersfield and Lancaster for people’s dialysis and radiation treatments. He was always willing to lend a hand.
Having three boys, Ernie quickly found himself involved in Boy Scouts and stayed involved for 35 years. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion, even serving as the Commander for a while.
Of all his volunteer work, he most loved teaching the children of Tehachapi the ancient art of Origami paper-folding. He will be missed by the thousands of children to whom he taught the art of Origami. His paper-folding will go down in Tehachapi history, especially his favorite, the frog. He loved having a booth at the museum during the Mountain Festival and showing children how to have fun with a piece of paper.
If he ever went to a doctor’s office, or anywhere for that matter, and saw a bored child, he would pull out a piece of paper, from the stash he always kept in his pocket, and start folding. When he was admitted to the hospital for a fall he had taken, you knew he had been there because there were frogs all over the nurses’ station, and the nurses where fighting over who took who’s frog.
He touched many, many lives with his compassionate nature and giving heart.
Ernie is survived by his wife of 48 years, Eva Fong; and their children, son, Elliott and Kathy Fong; daughter, Juliana (Fong) and Tony Diffenbaugh; and son, Ernest Fong, III of San Francisco. He is survived by his grandchildren, Kyle and Kaitlyn Diffenbaugh; along with Cheralyn Orkiz, Nikki Gomez, Steven Brown, and Jeffrey Brown. He was preceded in death by his son, Eric Fong.
The Rosary Service will be held Thursday, March 7 at 6 p.m.; and the Funeral Mass will be held Friday, March 8 at 9 a.m., both at St. Malachy’s Catholic Church, followed by interment at Bakersfield National Cemetery in Arvin at noon.
Wood Family Funeral Service, Inc. is handling the services. For condolences please visit www.woodmortuary.net.