April 22, 1945 - August 27, 2017
Katherine Phuah was a beautiful loving wife to husband David Phuah. She was a caring mother to not just Han Phuah and Elaine Phuah, but to everyone whose lives she has touched. She was an amazing self-taught chef specializing in Malaysian Chinese home cooking. She was also a masterful hair stylist, seamstress, housekeeping director, and artist. Katherine will be remembered for her amazing kindness to others, her selfless acts of putting others first before herself, and her ability to inspire others to better themselves through self-discipline and will power.
Born in a small town in Malaysia called Bagan Serai, Katherine was one of nine children. She was the youngest daughter amongst six daughters. Growing up in the small town, there was no access to basic health care. As a child of 6 years old and without antibiotics, she had recurrent strep throat that went on for about 3 years, which lead to heart disease. By the time she saw an Indian doctor at a nearby town, she was told she had a hole in her heart. This health condition would not deter my father’s love. The hole in her heart was filled with joy and happiness by those around her and especially the day when she met my father. He met her by coincidence when she was 18 years old in Penang and instantly fell in love. That moment sparked the beginning of a loving partnership that would last 50 years. She was married to David on May 1, 1974. Her two children, Han and Elaine, were born in Penang in 1978 and 1982, respectively.
She has succeeded in life through many very difficult challenges including her health issues and learning how to cope with living in a foreign country away from familiar faces. Katherine and her husband David, embarked on a long journey from Malaysia to the United States in 1986 when she was 36 years old. The journey to the United States was fueled by Katherine and David’s desire to provide better opportunities to their children, Han and Elaine. Both Katherine and David came to this country with nothing in their pockets but the few articles of clothing on their back and the hope to create a better life for their family.
Katherine would spend multiple years working physical labor for a mere $3 per hour, but it was a labor of love that she provided to her family. With no prior experience or formal higher education beyond high school, she began work as a housekeeper for hotels. Initially, her manager was skeptical due to her small size and assumed that she would not be successful; however, she developed revolutionary methods in cleaning hotel rooms such that she was eventually nicknamed “Speedy Gonzales” by her peers for being able to clean up to 36 rooms in 8 hours. She picked up on budgeting, scheduling, and payroll by watching her supervisor and it was slowly evident that she was more fit to be a leader rather than a housekeeper. Through sheer determination and will power, Katherine was eventually able to climb the hotel corporate ladder to ultimately become the Director of Housekeeping for Wyndham and Double Tree Hotels, a position often left for college educated individuals. She even had time and the skills to sew the holes in our clothes and cut our hair. Katherine has always been an extremely conscientious individual in everything she sets her mind to. Her sacrifices would enable her to provide the support necessary for both her children to pursue higher education and successful careers in medicine and technology.
Katherine was not only driven to succeed in the hospitality industry, she was also simultaneously successful as a loving wife and mother to her husband and children privately at home. After each long day of work during the work week, she would come home to prepare a full meal including 3-4 dishes to eat with rice. Each and every day there were freshly stir-fried/steamed/baked/stewed dishes. The incredible feat of being able to work as a full-time professional and also a homemaker makes Katherine such a uniquely successful individual to anyone who has ever met her. After retirement, her utmost passion in food was left to blossom like an orchid. She began to make even more complex, old-world Malaysian Chinese cuisines and even experimented with Korean kimchee making. She grew orchids, herbs, and fruits. She started going to the gym doing resistance training and developing interest in yoga. All while regularly going to her doctor’s appointments and taking her medications on time.
Katherine will be dearly missed by everyone, especially her husband, David and children, Han and Elaine. She will forever be loved by everyone who knows her and her memories will live on in tales that will be passed to the next Phuah generation. Katherine lived a beautiful life full of wonderful memories created with loved ones. She has left an unmistakable mark in everyone’s lives who calls her friend, wife, or mother.
Katherine is now free from suffering from illnesses and life issues. Her soul will now transcend to the Lord’s Heaven and the Lord will welcome her gentle soul with arms wide open. Katherine will now join our ancestors in a peaceful passing. May her soul rest in peace for all eternity.
A service to celebrate the life of Katherine Phuah of Garland, Texas will begin the family receiving friends at 10:00 A.M. and service following at 10:30 A.M., on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at ARIA Chapel in Dallas.
Arrangements are under the direction of
ARIA Cremation Service and Funeral Home
10116 E. Northwest Highway
Dallas, Texas 75238