Dr Frank Yung

This entry was cross-posted to The Network Buzz

Last weekend, I attended the memorial service and Canadian funeral of Dr. Frank Yung (his actual funeral was held in Hong Kong a few weeks ago).

Dr. Yung was my dentist.  I know that doesn’t sound like much, and to be honest I can’t say I knew him all too well (despite having gone to him for the past 25 years or so).  But he was one of those people with the rare gift to touch the lives of all that he met, however briefly… and the overflow crowd at the funeral was clear evidence of that.

It’s funny how you can learn far more about someone at their funeral than you ever knew about them in life.  But everything I learned only confirmed what I already suspected – what I already implicitly and unconsciously knew – about a man who was genuine and honest, who lived his values and was a real humanitarian.

In retrospect, he was one of the subtle influences in my life and a role model (despite my dislike of having whirring machines in my mouth and the nasty stinging taste of fluoride rinse).  The pictures and understated posterboard describing his work in South America, where he traveled repeatedly and provided emergency dental care, gave me some of my early direct exposure to international relief work (it wasn’t just something I’d heard about; I nowknew someone who’d done it!).  And his caring and honest nature was magnetic.  He was someone who genuinely cared about each and every patient – but in his own simple and humble and genuine way.

There are some influences in your life that you take for granted until they’re gone.  Those presences that lurk in the background, that gently massage your subconscious without you realizing it.  I saw Dr Yung only once a year, and our conversations were not exactly deep heart-to-hearts.  But in him I saw a true humanitarian – a person who deeply cared about others, who showed that through the way he treated his patients, the altruism and aid work he did, and (as I learned this weekend – but which is no surprise at all) the way he valued his family.  And I like to think that some of that rubbed off on all of us who had the fortune to know him.

Dr Yung was a role model who lived his values and lead by example.  I never saw even a hint of arrogance or sensed that he was showing off.  Yet his actions and attitude spoke louder than any words could have.  The world needs more humble leaders like him.

Dr Yung – you probably weren’t aware at all of the gentle-yet-consistent influence you’ve had.  Perhaps none of us are really fully aware of the influence we have on others around us.  But you’ve certainly left the world a better place, through the work you’ve done, through the people you’ve touched… and I can only hope to follow that example.