Longtime Eureka resident Ben Gim Chin, Sr. passed away peacefully Monday, May 20, 2019 at the age of 97.
Born in a small village in Taishan, Guangdong, China in 1922, Ben arrived in the U.S. when he was just 12 years old. Adopted by his grandfather after his parents died, he lived in Portland, Oregon until he was drafted by the U.S. Army during WWII. He was sent to Ft. Lewis, Wash. and Ft. Benning, Ga., training as an MP. In 1944, he was sent to the European theater, serving in France, Italy, North Africa and Germany.
After being honorably discharged from the Army following the war, he worked in various restaurants in southern Oregon. A family member told him there was a city in northern California which could benefit from his culinary skills. Intrigued, he uprooted his young family and relocated to Eureka and opened The Canton Café in 1954. Unbeknownst to Ben, he would become the first Chinese to reside in Humboldt County in more than 70 years. Although he endured racial hostility and even a few death threats, he was tough and persisted. When the mayor of Eureka became a regular patron, attitudes began to shift and hostilities subsided. Finding success as a restaurateur, Ben opened Chin’s Café and Motel on Broadway in 1970. He worked tirelessly alongside his family until his retirement in 1990.
Ben was known for his kindness and generosity to others. Those who knew him best, often fell victim to his good-natured practical jokes. He loved working in his garden, napping with his dogs, and was an avid “General Hospital” fan of more than 50 years. He was ever faithful to his beloved San Francisco 49ers and Giants baseball. But most importantly, he loved his family.
Ben is survived by Mary, his wife of almost 57 years; sons Ben, Jr. (Patricia) and Donald (Laura), and daughter Cristina. He will be fondly remembered by his grandchildren; John (Karmyn) Garcia, Jason Timmons, Melissa Adams, David Chin, Stacy (Mark) Roman, Bryant (Shelly) Blaser, Alison (Will) Mendoza, Dawn (Jimmy) Beller, Cynthia (Travis) Jenkins, Alisa Blaser and Lindsey Blaser. He is also leaves behind 30 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandsons. He was preceded in death by his eldest daughter, Katherine (Lou) Timmons and granddaughter Lorrie Garcia-Duck.
Visitation will be held Tuesday, May 28 at Sanders Funeral Home, 1835 E Street, Eureka from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The service will be held the following day, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2806 Dolbeer St., Eureka at 1 p.m., with a grave site service following at Sunset Memorial Park, 3975 Broadway, Eureka. A celebration of Ben’s life will be held 2 p.m., Saturday, July 13, 2019, at the Sequoia Conference Center, 901 Myrtle Avenue, Eureka.
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