TAMPA — Holidays and reunions found him everywhere, snapping photos of an extended family who had moved half a world away. Back home, Choong Loon Chiang kept everyone in the loop with emailed images.
Mr. Chiang, the eldest son and unofficial leader, had been the first family member to master the computer.
He was also its master chef, rolling out wonton soup, spicy beef and General Tso's chicken to feed the masses.
"He was a joyful person," said Seng Choy, his uncle. "He was the chief coordinator for the entire family, like the anchor man."
Mr. Chiang died Friday, the result of multiple illnesses, including diabetes. He was 52.
He had worked for Manchu Wok restaurants for more than 20 years, retiring as a district manager, his family said. The chain operates 200 stores in North America, mostly in shopping malls.
Choong Loon Chiang was born in 1960 in Klang, Malaysia, to Chinese parents. His ancestry was significant because the country's policies favoring native Malaysians over subgroups such as Chinese and Indian minorities have generated controversy and resentment.
He enjoyed badminton, one of the country's most popular sports.
At 21, he followed other family members to North America. He earned a college education in Canada. Then Mr. Chiang and his Malaysian wife, Siew, moved to Tampa.
"Florida seemed like the most tropical part of the country," said Choy, 72. "It's hot and humid." Like Malaysia.
He worked his way up at Manchu Wok, traveling frequently. The family celebrated the Chinese New Year and made rice pudding for the Mid-Autumn festival. At the same time, Mr. Chiang quietly spread the gospel he had adopted as a born-again Christian.
About half of the extended family has moved to the United States. They have come to Tampa for Mr. Chiang's funeral, held on Tuesday, from all over. David, a brother, flew from Australia. Choy, who officiated, lives in Seattle.
"The important thing is to let the family know we love and care for them," said Choy. "We need to have testimony, not only while on earth but before we leave this world."
The family will gather again for a wedding in Minnesota. It looks like a daughter, Wilman, will take over as event photographer.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.