San Francisco Chronicle
Dr. Elaine Jang
October 14, 1918 - January 23, 2023
Elaine Chinn Jang was born on the top floor of the Chinese Congregational Church and made a peaceful transition at home after celebrating her 104th birthday. As a 3rd generation San Franciscan, Elaine spent her entire life in North Beach and Chinatown.
Elaine attended Commodore Stockton, Francisco Jr. High, Lowell High and earned her Doctor of Optometry from UC Berkeley, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1940.
At UC Berkeley, Elaine became reacquainted with and married her Lowell classmate, Bruce Jang who earned his degree in Biochemistry, later becoming a successful businessman. One of Elaine and Bruce’s most successful projects was the development of the Royal Pacific Motor Inn on Broadway Street in Chinatown.
Although faced with many obstacles due to Anti-Asian sentiment, Elaine found ways to make the best of her situation. First finding employment as an unofficial “Rosie” electrician , then subsequently being employed as an Optometrist at Fort Mason providing eye exams and glasses for GIs being deployed.
Fulfilling her dream of opening her own practice, Elaine used the opportunity to replace a retiring North Beach Optometrist, becoming the first Chinese business to move into and integrate the predominantly Italian neighborhood. Dr. Jang’s 37 year presence providing eye exams and glasses for generations of Italian and Chinese families paved the way for other Chinese businesses.
To accommodate their growing family, Elaine and Bruce enlisted the help of white friends who helped them circumvent the practice of “No Sale, No Renting to Chinese”. Elaine and Bruce were able to build their home in 1954, as one of the first Chinese families to do so. Following Bruce’s death, Elaine continued to live on Greenwich until her passing.
Elaine was an avid reader, from Romance novels, professional magazines, to her daily Chronicle and People Magazines. She stayed current on the latest politics, pop culture, business and stock trends on her iPad and in conversation with Echo.
Living independently until the age of 100, Elaine enjoyed a full and enriched life, taking daily walks, group exercises at Washington Square and sipping coffee with her friends at Caffe Greco.
As a member of the Chinese Congregational Church, Elaine attended services in person or via Zoom each Sunday thru the last weeks of her life.
A proud member of the Square and Circle Club for 85 years, Elaine helped establish the “Square and Circle Club / Elaine Jang Scholarship Fund” open to students from SFUSD, City College and SFSU. She was an active member regularly attending club meetings.
Elaine was known to be an avid Sports fan, faithfully watching every televised Golden State Warriors and Forty Niners game. In November, Elaine received the thrill of a lifetime being invited by the Warriors to celebrate her 104th birthday at Chase Center. With her family in attendance, she was presented a cake as 18,000 Chase fans sang Happy Birthday. Featured on TV and on the JumboTron, Elaine received over 100,000 social media posts and birthday greetings from around the world. Although this was to be her final big outing, we know this was a highlight of her life and that all who witnessed her joy will remember Elaine as a strong vibrant 104 year old who embraced life fully until the very end.
Elaine’s legacy will be the success of her family: children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who will be forever grateful for her generosity and support. We will miss you till we meet again!
Elaine was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Bruce and her son, Calvert.
She is survived by her children: Crystal (Sydney), Corey (Gail) and Craig (Christina), Grandchildren: Kathy (Ray), Kelly (Costa), Courtney, Andrew (Elisha), Patrice (Alex), Jennifer, Cameron and Lilian, and Great-grandchildren: Joshua, Kayla, Spiro, Kaylee and Ari.
A Celebration of Life/ Farewell to Elaine will be held on: Friday, Feb 17th, 10 am at Green Street Mortuary, 649 Green Street, San Francisco, Ca 94133, Followed by graveside service at Greenlawn Cemetery in Colma.
To celebrate Elaine’s passion for her Sports Teams, the family encourages attendees to wear their favorite Golden State Warriors or 49ers gear.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to: Chinese Congregational Church, 21 Walter U. Lum Place, San Francisco, CA 94108 And/Or Square and Circle Club, Re: Elaine Jang Scholarship Fund, PO Box 640137, San Francisco, Ca. 94164-0137