Harry Tong’s (JD ’72) story was one highlighted by steadfast perseverance, a strong belief in the power of education and a commitment to service. Born in Guangzhou, China, Harry’s family immigrated to the United States when he was a young boy, settling in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. Coming from an economically disadvantaged community and dropping out of high school, Harry faced a crossroads at an early age.
At this critical juncture, Harry came to the realization that only through education could he build a better life. Harry returned and finished high school. From there, he attended Roosevelt University, where he completed not only his bachelor’s degree, but his master’s degree as well. In 1968, Harry enrolled at DePaul University’s College of Law. Like many of his peers who came to DePaul as first-generation law students, Harry saw a law degree as an opportunity to break barriers and advance his community.
After graduating from the College of Law, Harry moved to California and became an entrepreneur. He founded Tong Associates, Tong Accountancy Corp. and the Up To Date CPA Review Course. In addition to his business ventures, he worked as a licensed CPA, attorney, real estate broker and college professor. For all his professional success, Harry’s true passion and calling was public service.
Embracing DePaul’s Vincentian spirit of service, Harry was a pillar of his community. He served many years with the Woodside Terrace A.M. Kiwanis Club, receiving the organization’s Distinguished Service Award in 2005. He was the founding president and board of directors’ member of the Organization of Chinese Americans San Mateo Chapter. Furthermore, he served San Mateo as the city’s Human Relations Commissioner. Throughout his decades of community service, Harry worked with youth and the elderly, participated in civic and professional organizations, championed Asian American causes and promoted the American right to vote.
Following Harry’s passing, his wife (Mary) and family established the Harry W. Tong Memorial Endowed Scholarship to support College of Law students who demonstrate high financial need. As Mary states, “I am grateful DePaul is giving me this opportunity to carry on Harry’s legacy. As he always said, ‘Giving changes lives.’” Like Harry, the scholarship recipients are students who seek a DePaul Law education to better themselves and their families.
Harry Tong never forgot where he came from and what it felt like to have very little. He made it his life’s mission to work hard and help those who are less fortunate. Today, Harry’s legacy of service and advancement through education lives on at the College of Law, as the Harry W. Tong Memorial Endowed Scholarship generously supports DePaul Law’s next generation of community leaders and advocates.