Ted Choi, longtime Eastlake resident and activist, dies at 74

UPDATE: This post has been changed since it was first published. Comments from Christina Choi have been added.

Ted Choi Tam, a longtime Eastlake activist and father of Nettletown’s Christina Choi, died on Friday after a year-long fight with cancer. He was 74.

In an e-mail, Chris Leman notes that Mr. Choi served as the president of the Eastlake Community Council in the 1970s and that he oversaw the neighborhood’s first planning effort. 

“In the late 1990s,” Chris writes, “he helped produce Eastlake’s latest neighborhood plan, serving on the Eastlake Neighborhood Plan Steering Committee as a representative of low income housing advocates.”

Chris notes that all of Mr. Choi’s children “are or have been in the Eastlake neighborhood as residents, in jobs, or both.” Mr. Choi had been living in Montlake, Chris writes, but hoped to return to Eastlake.

According to an obituary forwarded by Christina, Mr. Choi was born on Vashon Island on Christmas Day 1935. He moved to Seattle and attended Garfield High School. He majored in business at the University of Washington and joined the Army when he was in his early 20s as an intelligence analyst and was honorably discharged as a Specialist 5th Class.

He had an early job at Trader Vic’s, worked as a manufacturing engineer on the original 747, worked in various financial institutions and commercial real estate firms, and started Choi Investment Realty in the late 1970s.

The obituary notes:

Ted had a lifetime commitment to making a difference in the community. The list is too numerous to count, but some highlights were: Founding board president of Kin-On Health Care Center,  one of the first presidents of Eastlake Community Council, Chinatown Chamber of Commerce advisor, multiple Seattle Schools committees, Board member of City of Seattle Board of Ethics, and Capitol Hill Soccer coach and referee. His political career started in Young Republicans and culminated in becoming the first ever Asian precinct committee chair of a legislative district as well as a two time delegate to Republican National Convention.  He even ran for the Seattle City Council in 1972, with the slogan “Let’s Get it All Together”.  Early this year he was recognized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and OCA-Greater Seattle Golden Circle for his lifetime involvement with the Chinese community.

Mr. Choi met his wife, JoAn, in 1969. They were married in 1970 and had six children. He cooked in restaurants at an early age and, along with his wife, inspired all of his children to enjoy great food. The obituary says it was “a great source of pride” for Mr. Choi when Christina opened Nettletown earlier this year.

In an e-mail, Christina had this to say about her dad:

I am particularly proud of his time giving to so many communities. He was always going to meetings for this board or that group throughout my childhood and I never realized what that meant till more recently — he volunteered much of his time and energy to help many peoples and places become better and stronger.  A special moment for me in the last year was to see him accept a lifetime achievement award from the Organization of Chinese Americans(OCA). In his speech his main advice was to make time for your family and really savor that time together.

Mr. Choi is survived by his wife JoAn, children Theresa (Juan Carlos Ramirez), Elizabeth (Neal Rudd), Christina, Teddy (Katie), Christopher and Matthew, and grandchildren Donovan Ramirez and Matthaeus Rudd, his brother Dan (Eunice), nephews and nieces Ronnie, Richard, Stefanie, Sheri, Spencer and Scott.

Services for Mr. Choi will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct. 6) at St. Patrick’s Catholic Churck, 2702 Broadway Ave. E.

An obituary in the Seattle Times is here.