Dr. James YA Wang was born on 7/23/24 in Shanghai China, to a family that owned banks and industries ranging from silk factories to silver mines As a result, James/Dr. Wang was kidnapped twice and held for ransom. The second time he was kidnapped with a friend whose family was of modest means. A deal was struck for the release of both boys together for a large sum of money (that was paid by James's father in gold). On the day the kidnappers were supposed to exchange the boys for the gold, the kidnappers only brought James to his father. The other boy's parents were overcome with grief when their son was not presented. James's father asked, "Where is James's friend?" One of the kidnappers responded, "Why do you care? You are the one paying and we brought your son." The other boy's parents began to cry. James's father said, "I made a deal for both of the boys. Come back tomorrow at the same time with both of the boys and you can have the money (gold)."
My father told me that at the time he was very angry and upset that his father sent him back into captivity for another day, but that later he understood that his father was a man of honor and principle. Charitable and compassionate from that day on, James claims that he became a man during that experience, and that it shaped who he was; anchored in honor and principles that were the basis of all his decisions.
James told his sons, "Honor is a gift a man gives to himself and his family."
James was a very learned man, who obtained two masters degrees and a doctorate. He obtained his first degree when he graduated from Fudan University China as class president.
Soon after Japan invaded China during World War II, Dr. Wang fought to defend the Nationalist Government of China... and then into the Civil War with the Communists. He eventually fled mainland China with the Nationalist Army and Chiang Kai-shek to establish a new government in Taiwan.
In the mid 1950's Dr. Wang moved to the United States to further his education. In 1958 he obtained his first masters degree in hydraulic engineering from Colorado State University. He then studied structural engineering at the University of Colorado and earned a second masters degree two years later in 1960. Shortly thereafter, he met his future wife, Irene, on a blind date. James and Irene were married in 1964, and they had two sons: Victor and Jason. James and Irene remained married until her death in 2005.
During their marriage, James began his career in aerospace engineering. He then obtained a Masters Degree and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering at New York Polytechnic University in 1972. While working for employers such as Lockheed Martin and Fairchild Republic, Dr. Wang helped develop the F-14 and F-15 fighter planes, the space shuttles and the A-10 Warthog Ground Attack Plane. (Victor and Jason were proud to have a father who was a real rocket scientist.)
Dr. Wang was also a dedicated philanthropist who spent much of his time working for the betterment of Chinese Americans. He founded the Chinese Cultural Association in Chinatown, Manhattan and the Chinese Library at Confucius Plaza. His fondest accomplishment was creating a travel club to assist Chinese Americans in visiting their families in Taiwan. Calling upon his contacts within the Taiwanese Government for special landing rights and obtaining them, he then leased unused jets from major airlines at a discounted rate. Thus providing tickets for approximately 80%- 90% less than comparable retail flight prices. He passed these substantial discounts directly on to Chinese-Americans with no profit, allowing them to reconnect with their families after years of separation.
Dr. Wang was most proud of his family, and he took great pleasure in spending time with his wife, sons and grandchildren. Although his devoted wife, Irene, passed away in 2005, she was always in his heart. He visited her grave with flowers each year on her birthday, Mother's Day and other holidays. He was enamored with his sons, Victor and Jason, and adored and doted on the grandchildren they fathered: Dara, Brittany, Victoria, Katelyn, Brandon and James Patrick
Dr. Wang will be greatly missed by all and his memory will be always with us. Good bye Dad and Yeah Yeah (grandpa). We will remember the lessons you taught us and do all we can to uphold the honor of our family name.
James passed quietly in his sleep at his home with his son on 11/19/18. He was 94.
Dr. James Y.A. Wang is survived by a sister in China, two sons: Victor and Jason, and six grandchildren: Dara, Brittany, Victoria, Katelyn, Brandon and James Patrick “JP”.