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Molokai Pioneer and Humanitarian: Yun Kee Yuen

From Chinese Pioneer Families of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai – UH Press

Community Contributed

By Heidi Chang (granddaughter)

When Yun Kee Yuen opened the first pineapple plantation store on Molokai in the early 1920s, it soon became the hub of the community, and he did whatever he could to help make life more enjoyable for the plantation workers on Maunaloa.

Yun Kee, better known as Y. K., was an enterprising merchant, known for his aloha—always sharing whatever he had and trying to help people. He became a major merchant by the end of the 1930s, operating four grocery stores on the Friendly Island and making many important contributions to the community during those early plantation days. He came a long way for someone with only an elementary school education.

Born on May 7, 1898 in Manoa Valley in Honolulu, Y. K. was the eldest of five boys. His parents, Fong Yuk Yuen and Chun Shee Yuen, emigrated from Siu Yun Village in the Nam Long area of Chung Shan District in southern China.

mongst her latest work is a contribution to a new book “Chinese Pioneer Families of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai,” published by the Hawaii Chinese History Center and distributed by University of Hawaii Press.

To contact Heidi email her at Heidi@HeidiChang.com. To order the book from University of Hawai‘i Press call (808) 956-8255, toll free 1-888-847-7377; email: uhpbooks@hawaii.edu; or order online at: www.uhpress.hawaii.edu.

Author’s note: Based on interviews of Y. K. Yuen’s four children (Lilyan Yuen Anderson, Jane Yuen Chang, Marybeth Yuen Maul, and John “Sonny” Yuen Sr.) by Heidi Chang.


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