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Major supporter passes away -- Milton Wong, 1939 – 2011

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One of the Sauder School of Business’s strongest supporters, prominent Vancouver businessman and philanthropist Milton Wong passed away on New Year’s Eve at the age of 72.

The UBC alumnus was one of the founding members of Sauder’s Portfolio Management Foundation (PMF), a program that gives students real world experience investing in the capital markets. Dedicating his time, expertise and financial support, Mr. Wong established and helped launch the program in 1986 with fellow founders Murray Leith and Michael Ryan.

“Milton was a visionary. He understood the need for well-trained investment professionals to manage changes affecting the financial industries and worked tirelessly to ensure that our students were ready to take them on,” says Daniel Muzyka, dean of the Sauder School of Business. “He will be remembered for his generosity and dedication to the community, and as an inspirational figure for a generation of B.C. entrepreneurs and business people.”

Launched with an initial investment of $300,000, the two-year extra-curricular PMF program allows a number BCom students to work a real portfolio of stocks and bonds, now valued at $4.5 million. Until recently, Mr. Wong met regularly with PMF classes to provide insight from his years of experience into what is necessary to succeed in the capital markets.

The program now has more than 130 alumni working in the financial industry around the world.

Mr. Wong grew up in Vancouver’s Chinatown as the eighth of nine children of an immigrant tailor. He graduated from UBC in 1963 after studying political science and economics and went on to establish financial management firm M.K. Wong and Associates in 1980. The firm was eventually sold to HSBC Global Asset Management in 1996.

During his successful career, Wong purchased the Chinese Freemasons’ building at Pender and Carrall, where his father had started Modernize Tailors in 1913. He restored it and converted the upper floors into housing for seniors.

Milton Wong remained engaged with UBC throughout his life and was a generous donor and supporter of the late Michael Smith’s human genome sequencing project at the university.

“Milton Wong was a builder, constantly looking for ways to make Canada better,” says UBC President Stephen Toope. “He was, quite simply, one of the most generous and genuinely thoughtful people that I have ever met.”

Mr. Wong leaves a remarkable legacy.  He was one of the instigators of The Laurier Institution as well as the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival, and played a major role in supporting many First Nations initiatives, land claims and business partnerships.

Among his many honours, he has received the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, the 2012 Business Laureates of BC Hall of Fame and the City of Vancouver’s highest honour, the Freedom of the City Award.

A tireless supporter of higher education, Wong served two terms as Chancellor of Simon Fraser University from 1999 to 2005.  He was instrumental in raising funds for and supporting organizations such as the BC Cancer Foundation, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Science World and the YWCA.

Milton Wong is survived by his wife Fei, daughters Andrea, Sarah and Elizabeth, sons-in-law Kevin and Joe, and three grandchildren. A memorial service will be held later this month.