Esther Don Tang 97, of Tucson, Arizona, died Saturday, February 28, 2015. She was born March 5, 1917 in Tucson to Don Wah and FokYut Ngan. Her childhood home was a store/house at the corner of Jackson and Convent streets, where the Tucson Convention Center now stands. Growing up in the Tucson Barrio/Chinatown, she became fluent in Spanish and Chinese. She and her husband David were owners of a Campbell Avenue retail center in Tucson. Esther helped establish Pio Decimo Neighborhood Center, serving 20 years as Executive Director. Her later career included real estate development as part of an all-woman company whose vision was to create a unique brand of quality living facilities for the elderly and families with children.
Esther was named Tucson Woman of the Year in 1955. Her volunteerism, leadership, and achievements included works for the YWCA, The Diocese of Tucson, The Salvation Army, Pima Community College Board of Governors, Pima Council On Aging, La Doña de los Descendientes del Presidio de Tucson, Tucson Chinese Cultural Center and countless others.
The Historical League was very pleased to honor Esther Don Tang as a Historymaker at the Gala in 2003. Her story is remarkable and an inspiration to all. It was a pleasure to work with her documenting her life with video, oral history, photographs and artifacts. We are deeply saddened to lose this remarkable lady.
Esther Don Tang’s energy and enthusiasm for life is an inspiration to the next generation. During her Historymaker interview she was quoted, “A person should never do any kind of work unless they’re happy in it. That’s the only way you’re going to succeed. So I say, never do anything unless you enjoy it and then you grow with it.” As a community activist, Mrs. Tang continued to promote diversity and tolerance of age, ethnic, and religious differences. She was diminutive in stature, but her achievements for the Tucson community stand tall.
Excerpts from Arizona Recollections and Reflections, An Arizona Centennial Historymakers Commemoration and the Arizona Daily Star (Mar. 8, 2015)