Messages of Condolence

Ronald (Ron) Soong-Kei Tse

   1949 -  2005

Ron was born in 1949 in San Francisco, the son of Dr. Wing-Yan Tse and Marion Ahn Lee Tse. He is survived by his wife Diana Sun Tse, his two children Shaun and Suzanne Tse, step mother Michiko Nasu Tse, and two sisters Maryan Tse Gong and Cynthia Tse Kimberlin.

He lived in San Francisco, attending Farragut Elementary School, Aptos Junior High, Lincoln High School, City College of San Francisco, and San Francisco State University where he majored in music and also where he obtained his elementary teaching credential.

His mother died in 1964 and in 1966 Ron's father remarried to Michiko Nasu. In 1977 he was hired to join the staff of the Veterans Taxi Cab Company in San Francisco where he began as a cab driver and later became a dispatcher, a position he held until his death. In addition some years later, he ran a janitorial service with an assistant or two and obtained cleaning contracts with jewelry stores and art galleries.

Ron led a diverse life with friends from every conceivable background. He was a true American in every sense of the word by reconciling his Chinese ancestry and its traditional expectations with the cultural scene in which he found himself. He embraced everyone and all that life had to offer.

Please leave a message for Diana, Shaun, and Suzanne.


1. Thomas Aguila (Reno)
Diana, Shaun and Suzanne,

I apologize for not sending this message sooner. I've visited this site with intentions of entering thoughts, memories etc. but just could not get started. There are so many things I could write but will limit this entry to my history with Ron and what he meant to me. I've know Ron since 1965, music was the common bond that gave our teenage years meaning and satisfaction. We were in a psuedo "Soul / Rock" band named Cream of Wheat, Ron playing guitar and me on keyboards. Our adventures together involved hanging out at Blue and Gold Billiards trying to be wanna be pool hustlers and pin ball wizards. The 70's brought more bands "Jada / Breakthru" and responsibilities, me getting married, Ron bearing down on his education. Ron succeded and graduated I became his roomate on Holloway via a separation and his roomate on Folsom via a divorce. Ron was one of two people I had to share my innerthoughts with during this phase of my life. I am grateful he was there for me. A few years later I married Mary Ann and eventually had a baby boy Troy. Soon to follow was Chris. During this span of time I was involved with my new family but still managed to see Ron and the "gang" occasionally. Eventually Ron and I were roomates again on Bepler due to a seperation from my second marriage. Mary Ann and the boys moved to Reno. I finally woke from this haze and reconciled with Mary Ann. Ron did not hesitate when I informed him that Mary Ann and the boys were moving back to SF and I asked if we could share the house. At the time I did not kinow the impact Ron would have on my baby boys Chris and Troy. He shared his philosophies, diverse interests, generosity but most of all his laughter with them. Their respect and love for Ron began at this "home" and his becoming part of our extended family. The 80's we moved to Reno but Ron visited us as often as possible. On his motorcycle, via bus or car he managed to show up with a backpack and presents for the boys. On one occasion he spent the day with me at work, riding in my service truck, visiting with my customers and co workers who assumed we were related. I told them Ron was my "uncle", they believed me and called him uncle Ron. He gave up trying to educate these "dumb rednecks" on our different nationalities "chinese vs filipino". He was the first to stay at our new home. There was always a spare bedroom for him. Our trips to SF always included seeing Ron whether we were at Harry and Di's, my parents or me just there on business. The 90's visits were still frequent but now they included Diana, Shaun, grandma and eventullly Suzanne. Skiing trips, camping or just coming up for the weekend was always looked forward to by everyone. The boys would get Ron "comps" at the Hotel Spa or restaurants, Ron would treat them to Ski trips we would all go out to eat while Ron would give me an insight to his views on parenting, gambling, planning on retirement eventually ending with everyone catching up and laughter. Looking back, the only regret I have is the visits we didn't have. My last conversation with Ron he was in the hospital again undergoing tests. He said he was depressed and was trying to keep a positive attitude. Our conversation turned to making plans to get together for the Giants Marlins game. We were both excited about getting together, contacting Os to go, getting tickets, on and on. I told him we all loved him and asked if there was anything we could do. His reply was to make sure I send him some baseball cards and reminding me how much he enjoyed any kind of sports souvenirs. Less than a week later he passed. I miss you Ron. Your more my brother than friend. I admire you for the importance you placed on our relationship and all your relationships. Keeping in touch, loving my family and sharing yours. Diana, Shaun and Suzanne you all can count on Mary Ann, Troy, Chris and myself to share our memories and keep Ron forever in our hearts. Our home will always have room for all of you and hopefully yours for us. I miss you Ron...

Love, Tom A.
Date: May 21, 2005 - Sa 00:04

2. Alex Wong (Brooklyn)
dear diana, shaun, and suzanne,
i'm so sorry to hear about rons passing... i wish i could be there for the memorial service, but please know that you are all in my thoughts. he was one of my favorite people to see show up at ednas house for xmas when we were young, and it was always comforting and encouraging to know that another family member had "gone against the grain" and pursued music. i know that my family and i are here for you all if we can help make this difficult time any easier. please take care and i hope to see you and the kids again soon.

love Alex Wong
Date: May 20, 2005 - Fr 17:15

3. Rich Olen
To Ron's loved one's, I am one of Ron's Veteran drivers who always saw him as the most professional, capable, personal and with a wink and a smile (cigar in hand) a friend to all. I wish I had taken him up on his offer to join him and others on his sailboat a few years back because then I would have got to know him more personally, and got to see the man that a number of my passengers relayed to me when inquiring about him in my cab... his musical accomplishments, how well read, his many, many diverse interests.
A gentle journey Ron. I'm glad for all of you who did know him well and touched his love.
Date: May 15, 2005 - Sn 19:15

4. Troy Aguila (Las Vegas, NV)
Every heart that has beat strong and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world
-Robert Louis Stevenson

That impulse is the beautiful Tse family. Physiologically speaking, an impulse is a progressive wave of biochemical generated energy that travels along a nerve fiber or muscle and stimulates activity. Ron may no longer be with us physically but what Ron has left behind is his beloved family and many great memories. My thoughts are with you Diana, Shaun and Suzanne.

Ron was a family friend who I will always remember as someone who was genuinely a fascinating man, a man of interest. I’ve shared many memories with Ron. One of my earliest memories of Ron Tse was when I was around the age of four which would have been in 1981. It’s a funny one when I think back on it but it’s a memory for some reason I’ve always remembered. While living with Ron, my parents and younger brother, Ron instructed me to only use three pieces of toilet paper while going to the bathroom. Ahead of his times, I think this was Ron’s attempt to save the trees.

Ron played in a band with my dad “Tommy Rock” legally known as Tom Aguila. So growing up, I saw Ron often. He was more like an uncle to me, the cool, hip motorcycle riding uncle. Full of life, he always seemed to glow.

After moving from “the city” to Reno, Ron would visit often and I can’t remember a time when we visited the city where we didn’t see Ron. As I grew up and would travel to the city on my own. In the first couple of years in college I lived in the Sacramento area and would visit the city often. I would always try and stop by Ron’s and hang out and even attempted to play chess with Shaun. I think Shaun was about five at the time when he beat me twice in the matter of 15 minutes.

Thinking of the memories that I shared with Ron it amazed me that some of the experiences I’ve experienced in life, were because of Ron.

The first time my brother and I ever skied was when Ron took us to Squaw Valley. Growing up in near proximity to Lake Tahoe, during winter skiing was the lifestyle of many. Well for my brother and I, we were only interested in bowling and baseball. Ron shared his interest in skiing and exposed us to the life on the slopes.

Another interest Ron shared with my brother and I was his interest in sailing. The first and only time I’ve ever been sailing was with Ron. I got a little sea sick but it was a fun experience that I will never forget. Being born in San Francisco it was cool being able to sail around the bay.

I will always remember these experiences along with the memories of our camping trips to Northern California, the bears, fishing and most of all the laughter always shared amongst family and friends. You will be missed Ron. Always

Troy Aguila
Date: May 09, 2005 - Mn 10:46

5. Bruce Unsworth (Oakland)
Ron and I shared a rental house in the Bernal Heights area of SF in '75 and '76, at a time when we were both getting started as professional musicians. We set up a room in the basement for rehearsals, and it was around then that Ron found the singer Lovey Blue and began working on songs with her. He really founded the band Breakthrough by giving Lovey piano accompaniment for many hours of practice before they started rehearsing with a full band.
Ron was just a couple years older than me, which seems utterly unimportant now, but it meant something then. He had already attended SF State, and he steered me to the better teachers while I studied there. He had also worked as a cook, and knew something about keeping a house and preparing meals, and I knew nothing about that. I was fortunate to have a friend and housemate who was willing to tolerate my ignorance about such things, and even show me a few tricks in the kitchen.
I eventually moved out of that house because my girlfriend and I decided to live together, and soon thereafter we were married and had a son. All that was 30 years ago, yet all this time we have thought of Ron very fondly and continued to socialize every year or so.
I was very honored when Ron asked me to play sax at the reception celebrating his wedding to Diana. I remember sitting with all the musician friends at the reception as everyone marveled at what a beautiful young wife he had found for himself. "He's a lucky man!" we said that day, and he was. He was also a good friend, and we will miss him.
Date: May 06, 2005 - Fr 01:40

6. Chris Lee (Corvallis, Oregon)
Dear Shawn,

When your Aunt Cynthia requested that we write down things about Ron, your dad, so as to pass on memories, stories, thoughts, and feelings to you kids, I felt mostly that I was writing to you. I don’t know if I ever met Suzanna more than once or twice and certainly not in the last several years. I think I only met your mother once or twice. But you, I met a few times. And your dad was always so proud of you, so overjoyed with you, and worked, lived, and loved for your best interests.

He would tell me from early on about your chess prowess, and your tournaments in the park in Chinatown. He told me about your total immersion program and how well you were doing in it.

He’d always say, “Shawn’s a good boy.” He loved you and was proud of you and wanted to give you lots of fathering and love and shared experiences.

And it is at the same age, between 7 and 11 that I start remembering your Dad.

Ron and I were first cousins. Our mothers were sisters and I remember playing with Ron all my life. His family would often come to our house in Palo Alto, spending an afternoon yakking and maybe sharing a barbecue in the evening. Ron and I would tear around the house, the back and side yards and around the block, playing cowboys, cops and robbers, kickball, softball, pirates, and more. I had a Daisy air rifle that made a wonderful bang. Ron loved that gun. We’d tote that thing all over, firing at anything that moved and lots that didn’t. My cocker spaniel, Dixie, thought we were best avoided. We tumbled over sets of inner tubes, tossed footballs, climbed trees and forts, and chased each other all over.

One afternoon, we took a red rubber ball and started kicking and throwing it to each other across the street. Unfortunately it was a busy street and a police cruiser stopped and called us over. Although we assured him that we wouldn’t let the ball get loose, he told us to cease and desist. Our parents were not too happy about that brush with the law. We, on the other hand, saw no reason for people to worry: we had good control of the ball; it wasn’; it wasn’; it wasn’; it wasn’t; we had supreme confidence in our abilities. Ha!

When our families visited, I remember that a lot of our play wound up in the streets. Probably because our parents encouraged us to get out of the house. Ron was a risk taker and rarely backed down from a challenge. One time, we were playing baseball at the local park, just a few of us, so we started a game of hotbox. Two guys would try to run down the guy in the middle. Ron had come to visit in a good pair of slacks, but that didn’t stop him from playing hard and he split those pants right up the crotch. I can still see his face as he tried to decoy us into throwing as he was charging, the curl of his lip, the wild light in his eye. It didn’t work and he was tagged out.

The events didn’t always take place in Palo Alto. Our families often visited the house on
Victoria Street. You’ve probably visited: it’s on a hill and has a garage at street level. That hill provided us with plenty of excitement. We’d ride down the hill on boards nailed to roller skates, first sitting, then kneeling, then standing. We’d fall, crash, skin our knees, and try it again. But when Ron suggested we sit in the red wagon and go down. I bowed out. He said we’d just turn into the bushes to the right. I could see us turning, then overturning, and carrying enough speed to do some serious damage. I don’t recall if he actually did it or not…but I don’t remember going to the emergency room.

Later, when we were a little older, I do remember visiting and firing off marbles and stones from pipe guns. These were bent pipes loaded with firecrackers. Light a firecracker, throw it down the pipe, add a marble, hold it out and fire that thing away. Here, we were saved from injury only by poverty: not enough money to buy many firecrackers.

When we were both about 9 or 11, Ron’s oldest sister, Mariyan, got married to Bill Gong. I remember us both at the wedding, and Ron was all focused on throwing the rice. He was the ring bearer, and I think he lost or dropped the rings at the rehearsal. I think they tied the rings to the cushion for the service. We were both kind of excited with all the people, color, music, food, and a chance to throw things at Mariyan and Bill. I remember people throwing rice while Bill and Mariyan dashed to their car, and Ron scooping up rice from the ground and firing it after them, long after everyone had stopped.

I can’t talk too much about Ron without bringing his father into the picture. Ron’s dad was a fiercesome tyrant, who’s voice I can still hear yelling “Ronnie!” Although Ron wanted a pet of some sort, the only thing his dad ever let him have was a rooster. Why he had a rooster I don’t really recall. I think it came over the fence into their yard or something like that. Ron took care of that rooster, played with it, and chased it with dart guns, rubber bands, and rubber-tipped arrows. He named it Diesel, and pronounced it “Dee CELL” with the accent on the second syllable. In the basement, there was a window over the grey, cement utility sink. It looked out at ground height into the backyard. I remember seeing Diesel in the window, resting on the ledge outside. Ron took the dart gun and fired right at the window, making Diesel jump about a foot.

I liked Diesel, but the next time I visited, I found that Diesel had been given to the Fleishacker Zoo. We took Ron there to visit his pet, and he showed us where he lived, in with a bunch of other chickens, pigeons, and blackbirds. I know he missed his pet.

Ron’s dad often lost his temper at Ron as he grew older. One time, he chased Ron around the house and Ron took shelter in his bedroom, locking the door. Oooooooo that really mad Uncle Yan mad. He went to the basement and brought up a hammer and started pounding on the doorknob. He was so crazy mad that he broke off the doorknob. But by then, Ron had gone out his window and out onto the streets.

Our family often went to Ron’s house on Christmas day, taking over presents and visiting in the evenings. I remember finding out that Ron was not allowed to open any presents until AFTER dinner on Christmas day! I was stunned. How could any kid wait that long? Why do it that way? I thought it was terribly mean of his dad to insist on this. And I remember sitting at the Christmas dinner table while the adults talked and picked their teeth, seemingly intentional in their torturous pause before opening Christmas presents.

Ron’s stern father led Mariyand and Bill to do a lot of “big-brother/big-sister” stuff with Ron: taking him skiing, having him visit them in Berkeley, and when they had your uncle Robbie, Ron was at their house a lot, taking care of Robbie and showing him how things should be done. They were very close.

Uncle Yan’s stern anger, coupled with the death of his mother when Ron was still in Junior High (?) led Ron away from the house and into various types of rebellious mischief. He smoked, he tried drugs and drink, but that was so common for all of us in the 60’s and 70’s, especially in San Francisco. He attended City College of San Francisco, studying music, and found that he had a real gift at the piano. He progressed amazingly well and next thing I knew, he’d formed a rock band. He got a big, copper-colored van with a heart-shaped side window and carted stuff all over. He lived with a guy named Buddha who had an amazing singing voice, was in a wheelchair, and introduced him to all sorts of musicians and performers. His band had black jumpsuits and I remember that one summer, they toured a bunch of Hilton hotels, playing in several states.

The Ron I knew in those years was a little scary: black leather jackets, dark glasses, a small beard or goatee, a cigarrette always present: a tough guy. By then, he was driving cabs for Red Top (?), and had learned all about SF’s many small streets, late shows, weird haunts, and strange gatherings. Compared to my life, Ron’s seemed steeped in experience, danger, drama, and more.

I didn’t see him as much anymore. I had moved out and gone to college. Ron had moved out, too. Neither of us was around as often for family get togethers. We might see one another at Christmas time if the families all convened somewhere. I’d try to get him to play piano---give us some rock and roll, but he always declined. He would seem out of place with his black clothes and dark glasses, smoking cigarrettes in my parents’ house with the white rug and the grand piano.

In later years, after he’d stopped playing in bands, he had a little Pontiac Fiero 4 cylinder. That thing was so tiny that there was barely room in it for a fishing rod and a tackle box. Ron still liked to fish and tried to go out to the piers and try his luck. He started going out for sturgeon on charter boats and that led to a “family” outing.

Ron arranged for us to meet at my apartment in El Cerrito. (I was going to grad school at UC Berkeley by then). He came over and stayed the night before we left. By then, he was lean and clean. He’d stopped smoking and lost some weight. He was friendly, funny, and helpful. He showed me how he would put boiling hot water into his thermos the night before using it. Kept it warmer by heating the thermos before we put the coffee in. To this day, I do it the way he showed me and I think of him when I do it.

My dad and Uncle George met us at my apartment and we headed out to the Carquinas Straits to try our luck sturgeon fishing. It was cold, overcast, grey but calm when we went out. Ron showed us how hard we had to swing the rod when we felt a bite. Setting the hook in a sturgeon’s mouth was not easy. He kept squirting “Sturgeon cocktail” attractant on his bait. We saw a big one roll in the water behind us on one pass through the channel. We anchored and eventually someone hooked him. I think the boat caught three big ones that day. Uncle George was seasick and cold, a prelude to his liver cancer condition. My dad was tired. Ron and I didn’t get a fish, but we had a few bites and had a good time.

When my Uncle George died, he left Mariyan, Cynthia, Ron, myself, Pam, and Georgia with about $100,000 each. Ron changed a lot with that inheritance. We thought he’d spend it on parties, cars, fishing trips, carousing, and then waste the rest. Instead, he bought the house on Byxbee, found a good woman and married her, had two children, and opened a small side business cleaning offices. The inheritance really settled him down and changed his life.

The last time I saw Ron was at my step-dad’s funeral (Abe Chin). It was in August of 2004. I was on a longish driving trip that went from Oregon to Colorado to New Mexico, Arizona, and crossed the desert to LA, where we attended the sad service. After the funeral, we had dinner together at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Ron and I sat together and he told me how well you were doing, how you were heading to China with your class, and that “Shawn’s a good boy.” We took him to the airport and he seemed healthy, happy, and as good as I’ve ever seen him. He said he’d closed his cleaning business because too many of the shops he was cleaning for had closed. Did I want to buy any vacuum cleaners or toilet paper?

Then in February I called him during his chemotherapy days. He talked to me for some time. He told me that he was actually clear of the cancer in his spinal system. He said he would get one more treatment in February, then get a break, then get 2 or 4 treatments in April and be done. He was optimistic, although tired and aware of how spacy he had been. He said he’d go to the store and find he’d forgotten his wallet. He told me of his plans to go to Alaska in June: just call the cab company, have them take me to the pier and I’ll get on board. I asked him how his kids were taking this. He said he had to be careful not to get a cold or flu from them. Shawn, though, he said, was taking this well and understood. “He’s a good boy.” He said once again.

And so it was with an incredulous sense of unreality that I heard of his decline. On a Saturday in April, he talked to my sister Pam and her husband Doug. He made sense, remembered who she was, made efforts to eat, and remembered that my mother and all of us kids prayed for his recovery. And then in about a week, he slipped into a coma and died. Unbelievable. I still find it hard to imagine, to accept, to feel. How could this be? I’ve known Ron all my life, and now...he’s gone.

So here’s my stories. I hope it can do something to celebrate the life of Ron Tse.


Chris Lee
May, 2005
Date: May 05, 2005 - Th 17:25

7. Vic Turner (San Francisco)
So unfair; So unexpected; So very difficult to believe that Ron has been taken from all who knew him, loved him, and you, who need him so dearly, and for whom his love had no limit and will never end. You three were his joy, his pride, his solace, and his life. I hope that I was able to help you in any way during my brief visit to the hospital, and I look forward to helping organize a musical tribute for the upcoming celebration of his all to brief time with us. Please let me know of any specific pieces of music you wish to be included. All of my heartfelt good wishes to you in this, the saddest of times.
Date: May 03, 2005 - Tu 13:12

8. Rob Gong
Where do I begin? I am still trying to accept the fact that he is actually gone from this earth, but is now only with us through spirit. I am trying to write this message, but finding it difficult to put it down in words.

For now, I would like to say that Uncle Ron was truly a very special uncle to me. I know while growing up, he would try to take me places (like troll boat fishing at San Pablo Reservoir - only catching one fish that happened to be blind and sick) and try new things (like one of his favorite foods...barbeque ribs and chicken).

I remember when I was about 12-years-old, my parents took me to see Uncle Ron perform at a small club inside a bowling alley in San Mateo (I think). When I first saw him up on stage wearing a plain button front t-shirt, blue jeans and long hair (shoulder length) while playing his electric keyboard, made me feel very proud to be his nephew. Those kind of small memories I won't forget.

I love you, Uncle Ron and I will truly miss you. I will always remember you as a fun-loving, caring uncle who always stood by his family and friends.

Date: May 03, 2005 - Tu 02:14

9. Bob Ingram
Ron was my friend. There are many ways I remember him. Sitting behind the switchboard, dispatching orders, counting his money, always calm, never letting the 109 drivers get to him. On the
boat, reminding me that it was time to pay him for the rent of the boat; sitting on the deck of my house in Occidental. Years of knowing him. All the memories. The sometimes harmless (sometimes not) kidding by other drivers saying that I was one of Ron’s guys. That because I knew Ron so well that I must have been getting special treatment. All the memories.  But there is one memory I will never forget. One experience that will never leave me. It was the last time I saw him alive. Ken
Shen and I went to the hospital to see Ron. When we got there he was obviously in a lot of pain, and mostly delirious. He recognized Ken. He did not recognize me. Diana was there trying her best to make him comfortable. An impossible task. He was in way too much pain to be in any way comforted. He was begging Diana to help him. Diana was desperately trying but could do nothing to really help relieve the discomfort.  There was no way to help him. The pain was obviously too
intense, and too relentless.  Over the last few months I had watched him. First struggling to
walk, then walking with a cane, then with a walker. Now he was struggling to feed himself, to no avail. It was overwhelming to watch these moments in the hospital. And then I saw Ron. I
realized that throughout this he was acting with a diginity I had never seen. In the pain and discomfort he would begin to scold Dianna for not helping him. And then he would catch himself and stop. Although basically delirious, somewhere deep within himself, he would catch himself and stop. I knew how he had struggled with anxiety, depression, and real fear. As a survivor of cancer myself, I knew what he had gone through. I understood. But I had no experience with this new dynamic of
this horrible disease. Now he was in real pain, unrelievable discomfort, delirious, and still he was able to catch himself and struggle against the slow, methodical detriration of his body. He stuggled to feed himself, he stopped himself from railing against those around him. Such unbelivable dignity. I believe that no matter what you have done in life, one can absolve oneself in the face of one’s own death. By facing death with true dignity, one becomes a hero. Ron is a hero. I know that Ron in those moments became my hero. I saw him, I watched him. I saw the dignity. I saw him struggle on the most primal level and he struggled with real dignity. Those moments were some of the most overwhelming moments of my life. I feel honored to have watched them.

Ron, I will never forget you. You are my friend.

Bob Ingram

Date: May 03, 2005 - Tu 00:15

10. Lisa Kimberlin (Indianapolis)
Uncle Ron,

I love you and will miss you dearly!

Love, Lisa
Date: April 29, 2005 - Fr 20:49


Total of messages: 10

Created: 28 Apr 2005 | Edited: 6 Feb 2006

Guestbook Script programming by Elmar Mustaphin (c) 2000