Chinatown Bids Farewell to Photographer Corky Lee

Posted on: February 11th, 2021 at 5:02 am by

Photo: Karlin Chan

Chinatown bade final farewell to one of its favorite sons last Saturday with a hero’s send-off.

It was a cold bright morning, and hundreds of mourners lined the streets of Chinatown for the funeral procession of photographer Corky Lee. As is Chinese custom, the route stopped at places of importance in Lee’s life. (The door of the hearse is opened so the deceased can visit his home and favorite hang-outs one last time.)

Photo: Karlin Chan

A touching service was held gravesite in Kensico cemetery under bright but windy skies, where roughly one hundred mourners gathered. His brother John spoke of the need to preserve the work and legacy of Corky Lee, and fondly recalled scrubbing the floors with him as young children. Pastor Bayer Lee of the 21 Pell street Baptist church conducted the prayer service and recalled first meeting Lee, and how they came to collaborate on hosting community events and documentary screenings at the church.

Photo: Karlin Chan

Yet, perhaps most touching was when war veteran Cheryl Dupris spoke. Dupris served five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, and met Corky at the Kimlau post of the American Legion where he was active. He was a past commander of the “Sons of American Legion,” and Dupris wanted to present Corky’s longtime partner Karen Zhou with one of the American flags she received for each tour. As Dupris handed the keepsake to Zhou, she also presented a handwoven native American shawl and told the mourners that Corky had come to her in a dream and told her to give the shawl to Karen so when she was cold or lonely the shawl would be symbolic his arms around her.

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