From Blanche Hom Fong, daughter of Richard Hom
My father, Richard Yow Tow Hom was born March 3, 1913 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China. His grandfather had emigrated to the U.S. in the 1800s to work as a laundry laborer in Montana, leaving his family behind in Guangzhou. Since it was difficult at the time to bring Chinese women into this country, he returned home often to visit his family. When his son (Richard’s father) was old enough, he followed his father’s footsteps and emigrated to the U.S. to work as a laundry laborer also. He returned home many times (close to 12 total) to start a family. When his first wife died he remarried. Richard was his son from his first wife. Life in Guangzhou at the time was hard and when Richard was 13, he was ready to follow his father to Minneapolis to seek his fortune.
With only an eighth grade education from China he knew his options would be limited to manual labor such as working in a Chinese laundry alongside his father. He therefore jumped at the opportunity to join the U.S. Army in April 1942. He joined the 211th American Air Force Base in Sioux City, IA, as a private first class. He served as a dental assistant until his discharge in November 1945. He was honorably discharged with several medals: Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, and Marksman Badge with Carbine Bar & Rifle Bar.
Following his discharge Richard attended the Minneapolis Vocational Technical School through the G.I. Bill of Rights, taking cooking classes. He returned to China in 1947 to marry Lyla. Together they built a wonderful home for their two daughters in Minneapolis. Richard spent his career working in Chinese restaurants, eventually owning the Kee Mee Chow Mein, in Minneapolis, 1961 to 1974 when he retired.