Messages of condolence are pouring in from the community following the death of Joyce Cheung, co-owner of the popular Danny’s Wun Tun Restaurant in Ironwood.
Joyce’s family remembers her brilliant sense of humour, her compassion and her commitment to hospitality.
“She loved what she did. Being in the kitchen, feeding people,” her daughter Linda Cheung said. “She loved to talk to customers. And customers were not just customers. They were friends in her eyes.”
The Cheung family has served delicious Cantonese food for 42 years, first at their Canton Wun Tun House and then at Danny’s.
Joyce and her husband, Danny Cheung, immigrated to Toronto from Hong Kong in the early 1970s. The young couple had their first of three children there before moving to Vancouver to escape the frigid weather.
Joyce found a job at Hon’s Wun Tun House in Chinatown, where she learned to wrap its namesake savoury delicacies. Danny served at another Vancouver restaurant. Soon, the couple decided to open their own in Richmond: Canton Wun Tun at Times Square.
But they encountered a roadblock. Richmond bylaws at the time didn’t allow a front noodle kitchen, Linda said. So her mother sat outside of the offices at City Hall every day to for two weeks to get permission to open.
“Eventually they’re like ok Joyce, they’re gonna change it. That’s how it jump started,” Linda said.
And so one of Richmond’s favourite restaurants was born, drawing diners from all over the Lower Mainland.
“It was just great working beside my mom and dad,” Linda said. “The restaurant was their hard work. Their baby that they nursed.”
Linda and her brother Lawrence Cheung still work full-time and the restaurant, and sister Kat Cheung is a familiar face as well.
Joyce was 67 when she died, and had been married to Danny for 47 years. The long-time lovebirds, as Linda called them, met in kindergarten.
Loyal customers are adding their own messages of remembrance on social media. One person called her a ray of sunshine, while others remembered her vibrant smile and welcoming attitude.
John Ackermann, who grew up in Richmond, remembers eating at the Cheungs’ restaurant every Friday night with his family.
“She could remember everyone, she would ask about family members,” he said. “Just a really personal touch.”
Linda said she wanted to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support.
“It’s been a gift. I feel like they’re sharing a moment that they had with our mom. A memory that they hold close … It just warms our hearts.”
The family is hosting a memorial service for Joyce on Friday, Feb. 1 at Richmond Funeral Home from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Everyone who knew Joyce is welcome.
Those interested are also welcome to make a donation to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC in Joyce’s memory.