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DOFOO, Paul

July 20, 1913 – Calgary, Alberta
February 4, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta

Paul DoFoo passed away peacefully on Sunday, February 4, 2018 at the age of 104, leaving behind a rich legacy for his family and all who knew and loved him. He was born in Calgary on July 20, 1913, the eldest of five children. From an early age, Paul learned the importance of particular values which guided him through the decades: honesty, dedication and diligence, tolerance, generosity and the importance of family and community. His family had a firm belief that integration into the Canadian community was important.

From the age of six, Paul was an active participant in the Calgary YMCA, an organization which aims “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build health, spirit, mind and body for all.” He recounted YMCA-sponsored adventures as a youth, riding his bike out to Turner Valley and sleeping under haystacks warmed by oil well flares. He climbed Mount Yamnuska and Rundle Mountain while at Camp Chief Hector and recalled getting lost while leading a group of hikers!

Growing up in early Calgary, Paul attended Central Elementary School (which became James Short School) and East Calgary High (presently Colonel Walker School). Upon completing grade 12, he continued his education at The Institute of Technology and Art (now SAIT), where he received his diploma as a radio technician.

Given the social climate of the time, Paul realized that he would never find work in the field of radio technology in Canada. And so, in 1941 Paul travelled to China where he worked at the Central Broadcasting Station doing technical work. He was also an English language news broadcaster for the Voice of China. There he met Lilian, a journalist who would become his wife of fifty-four years.

Because of the Communist Revolution, Paul and Lilian made the decision to move back to Calgary and begin a new life there. In 1949, Paul opened the Home Confectionery which he ran for 34 years, seven days a week, 364 days a year from 8:00AM to midnight. This was far more than a confectionery. This was a place where Paul and Lilian provided translation and support services for countless new Canadians. They helped seniors with pension forms, mothers with young children and anyone else who needed assistance. It was also a gathering place for various “characters” who were welcomed and treated with kindness and respect.

In raising their four children in a house behind the store, Paul and Lilian taught their children the importance of being Canadian and they were encouraged to speak English as their first language. Canadian as well as Chinese traditions were followed and the store would be transformed for various holidays, fully decorated at Christmas time and rearranged for Victoria Day, when huge displays of firecrackers would be displayed in the window. Every Christmas, the family would discuss who could be convinced to join the family for dinner. Included would be Chinese men with families still in China and usually one of the “characters” from the store.

Paul’s memories dwelled on the positive even though life was difficult for the Chinese during the 1920s and ‘30s. They endured prejudice and discrimination with a government that implemented policies such as the Chinese head tax and unfair wage policies against citizens who were making meaningful and important contributions to the development of the country. He tended to recount these less than happy times with objectivity and no more than a shake of the head at the attitudes of those times. Despite events of the past, Paul was intensely loyal to his country and his city. He was cautious about watching Flames games due to what the excitement did to his blood pressure! Every Stampede week, he was decked out in full western regalia even if only to work in his beautiful garden in West Dalhousie.

Paul worked daily on his ongoing “Chinese In the News” project which he began six decades ago. He collected all references to Chinese people from both Calgary newspapers and inserted them in dozens of binders. The hundreds of articles were indexed and cross referenced by hand. With this, he created a legacy, documenting a unique thread in the history of Chinese in Calgary through the years.

Paul lived a life of helping, enabling and supporting others. He was an active member of the Chinese United Church since 1923. Like so many early Calgarians, Paul DoFoo played an important role in shaping a community where immigrants continue to enjoy new lives filled with hopes and dreams for a better future.

Paul was predeceased by Lilian and grandson, Christopher. He is lovingly remembered by his children, Joan McFetridge (Bill), Judy DoFoo (Ian), Caroline Parker (Don), and Eldon DoFoo (Kelly). He will be missed by his grandchildren: Paul, Geoff (Sarah), Fiona (Ben), Patrick, Shaun (Naomi), Jeremy (Kira), Casey, Samantha, Gabriel, and his six great-grandchildren.

If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Mustard Seed Street Ministry, 102 – 11 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB T2G 0X5 Telephone: (403) 269-1319, www.theseed.ca.

In living memory of Paul DoFoo, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH, Telephone: 403-276-2296.

Offer Condolence for the family of DOFOO, Paul

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Condolence Messages

  1. Hi Judy,
    I was very sorry to hear of the passing of your father. Over the years I have heard many stories about Paul and his contribution to the Chinese community in Calgary. Although I never met him I came to admire what I understood to be his generosity and dedication to his community and family. He had an amazing life. Meryl

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  2. Hello Joan & family,

    My deepest condolence to you and your family.
    Remembering Paul & all of you in my prayers in this Celebration of Life event .
    May the Lord welcome Paul into His Forever Kingdom and bless his family on earth.

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  3. Sorry to hear of the passing of your father. He was a great man. I was blessed to attend his 100 birthday. Praying for your family as you celebrate a life well lived.

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  4. Anne & Henry van de Vliert :

    Thank you for a beautiful and fitting memorial for your dear Father. His was a life well lived.

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  5. Mary Anne Andrews :

    Joan, Judy, Eldon and Carolyn,
    What a wonderful legacy your father left for you, your families, the church and our city. I am so honoured to have known him and been the recipient of his kindness. My condolences for your loss.
    Mary Anne (Mah) Andrews

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  6. To the DoFoo Family
    Our deepest sympthy on the loss of a kind and caring man as well as a great member of the Chinese community.
    The Mah girls, Kay & Mary

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  7. Marianne Doherty :

    Dear Joan, Judy, Caroline and Eldon and family,
    My thoughts are with you as you share in the memories of your wonderful father. The unofficial “Social Worker” for the inner city of Calgary. His kindness will long be remembered by those of us who were privileged to know him. As a young girl given a list to shop at a neighbouring store I was overwhelmed by a language and environment I did not understand. Your Dad happened to be there doing paperwork for the owner, he stopped and helped me gather what my Dad had requested. This began for me a life long interest in a new culture, Connections continued to recur through his children and my family as well as the nursing connection with your amazing Mom. The Salvation Army have a saying that today is so appropriate. “He has been Promoted to Glory”. God Bless.

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  8. My deepest sympathy for the loss of your beloved and deeply respected father, grandfather and great grandfather. He has truly left you a legacy of ideal citizenship, kindness and empathy, and great moral values. His loss will be profound and your treasured memories will sustain you forever.

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  9. George Merijohn :

    An exceptional tribute to a life well-lived.

    My regrets for not having experienced him in person but I have done so through Caroline who is living proof that “The apple doth not fall far from the tree”.

    Throughout his life Paul walked THE walk: He personified virtue and ethics as described by countless cultures thousands of years ago.

    He is a blessing – May those he touched continue his walk.

    George Merijohn
    San Francisco

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  10. Do Foo family: It was always a special treat to go to home confectionery after church on sundays to see your dad’s smiling, friendly face and of course to get our candy fix. Our whole family adored him, and I will always remember his beautiful head of hair! Your family will always be remembered for their musicianship and commitment to family and community.
    A special hug to Judson, whose friendship I will always treasure and whose warmth, loyalty and joy of life you inherited from your parents!

    Xoxo Martian

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  11. Judy and family
    Thinking of you today as I read about your dear dad’s passing.
    What a wonderful legacy he left for his family and our city.
    Our paths haven’t crossed in several years but I remember with fondness your love of teaching children, of music and of art when we worked together at Willow Park School.
    My grand daughter Allyse attended the Girl’s School where your sister Caroline was the Principal. She admired her greatly.
    What a talented family.. your dear dad must have been so proud of his family’s accomplishments.
    Take Care.
    Juane Priest

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  12. Paul was a person, who made everyone who entered his store, feel comfortable. He liked to share stories or just talk. As a teen, I used to go into Home Confectionary after basketball at the Chinese United Church gym, or after visits to Chinese kids homes such as the Wongs on 3rd ave.se, where the Silver Dragon is now. My dad, Yee Yet Ming, was an herbalist with a shop at 615 1st Str se, which was our home. Dad spent most nights next door at the Taylor shop and saw Paul frequently. I remember when Paul told me his daughter had become a teacher, and he was very proud of her achievement. Paul was respected by many. Well done Paul! We will not forget you!

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  13. Many blessings of love, comfort and peace to Mr. Dafoos family. I will always remember how he accepted me into his home only for the few minutes I was there. It made no difference to him of my culture, I was always greeted with a smile. Thank you sir for your kindness and fairness. It was my pleasure to have met you. Rest In God

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  14. Andrew McFetridge :

    Dear Joan, Bill, Paul, Geoff and Family,

    Deepest condolences from Stacey, Autumn, Sam and I. Remember those many great times and carry on this great man’s legacy.

    Love, Andrew, Stacey, Autumn and Sam

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  15. Dear Caroline
    I am sorry to hear of your father’s passing. You were so fortunate to have him for so many years.
    I have heard many stories of your father and his contributions to the community. Wonderful memories!
    Thinking of you

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  16. The world lost a very good man!

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  17. Chinese United Church :

    To the DoFoo Family

    The Chinese United Church suffered a great loss. Paul was a dedicated servant of God. His service to the church cannot be replaced. May you take your well deserved rest in the bosom of the Lord.

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  18. Sheldon First Rider :

    My condolences Judy
    You were fortunate to have such a wonderful father. I see his influence over you, your kindness and devotion, I know you made him proud of you. I loved hearing your stories about him and now know So much more.
    He passing is sad but knowing his love for you and your family, is your inspiration, you are truly blessed with so many beautiful memories and moments.
    He is at peace now

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  19. Jennivine Kwan :

    On behalf of the Kwan family, sending our thoughts and condolences. Uncle Paul was much loved by us and will be sorely missed.

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  20. Jack MacDonald :

    Condolences to the DoFoo family, Although I haven’t had a connection to the family for almost sixty years I remember attending James Short School with Judy. We lived on 2nd Avenue and while walking to and from school the DoFoo store was an almost daily stop. What a remarkable story about a man and family – true pioneers of Calgary.

    Jack MacDonald

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  21. To the DoFoo Family,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Growing up in the Chinese United Church, I have many fond memories of Uncle Paul. When I was a child, he seemed larger than life with his deeply resonant voice, beautiful hair, and kindly, jovial personality. As a young adult, I admired and respected him for his dedication, steadfastness, and faith. I will always treasure my memories of him and beloved Aunt Lil.

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  22. Barbara Sawaryn :

    Dear Caroline and family

    My sincere condolences for you all.
    Your story about Mr. DoFoo was beautifully written and a pleasure to read.

    Mr. DoFoo was everything about community and humanity, I remember him in th ‘70’s and taking my grade 3 classes for field trips to Chinatown, We were always welcome into his store on Centre street with a welcoming smile and if time a chat with the children. He taught us “Nay homa” and gave us a candy.

    It was with great pleasure as well that later I had the oportunity of teaching with one of his fabulously talented daughters who also instilled his values.

    Calgary was a better place with Mr.DoFoo and I am proud to have met him over the years and his wonderful charm and kindness.

    What a send off—- Gung Hey Fat Choy!!!

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  23. George & Jo Lee & Family :

    To the DoFoo Family
    Our sincere condolences to your family…We have so many memories of living in
    Chinatown with your family as ‘next block’ neighbors. Both Dana & Kevin have fun
    memories of going to the ‘store’ and making the hard choices of what goodies to buy and the patience your Dad had! He will be missed, but we have the happy memories .

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