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Published: Tuesday, 6/26/2012

China-born Toledoan to mark 100th birthday

Loo Yuke Sau, with his wife, Loo Yuk Ying, at the Asian Senior Center, says he does physical exercise for a total of an hour every day. Loo Yuke Sau, with his wife, Loo Yuk Ying, at the Asian Senior Center, says he does physical exercise for a total of an hour every day.
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Surrounded by his wife and friends at the Asian Senior Center, Loo Yuke Sau looked calm and content. He will celebrate his 100th birthday with friends and family at the center today.

"He still has a very good memory, sometimes better than mine," his wife, Loo Yuk Ying, said.

Mr. Loo turned 100 in January, but the family and the Asian Senior Center, which is part of the Asian Resource Center, decided to postpone the birthday party, a private affair, until June.

Mee-Len Koh, the executive director of the Asian Resource Center, said the 100th birthday celebration for an Asian-American will be a first for the center. She said the community lost a few members who were in their late 90s in the past few years.

"My secret for longevity is probably doing some sports every day. I do physical exercise twice every day for a whole hour. Around 8 a.m., I do it for half an hour, then again for another half an hour between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. I used to play sports like basketball and volleyball when I was young," Mr. Loo said in Cantonese to a Blade reporter who interpreted his remarks into English.

Mr. Loo's life experience resembles that of many Chinese-Americans. His family was from Kaiping, a small city in Guangdong Province in southern China and the hometown for many Chinese immigrants. Mr. Loo's father moved to the United States and worked in restaurants in Toledo.

Born and raised in Kaiping, Mr. Loo came to join his father at the age of 26. Just like his father, Mr. Loo started to work in Chinese restaurants in the greater Toledo area.

He also lived in New York and Detroit for a few years.

"I came to the U.S. to make a living. I didn't have many choices. … But of course I love Toledo."

Mr. Loo has two sons, one of whom, David, owns the well-known Golden Lily restaurant.

"When I first came here, I missed home a lot and often wanted to go back. But now that the whole family has immigrated here and I don't know anyone in my hometown, I no longer miss China so much," Mr. Loo said.

After a long career in the restaurant business, Mr. Loo retired at the age of 62.

In their free time, Mr. Loo and his wife enjoy going for walks in the parks near their home. But because the couple speak little English, they rarely travel outside Toledo.

The Asian Senior Center, which opened in 2000 at Highland Park's shelter house, has brought significant changes to Mr. and Mrs. Loo's life. Thanks to the various activities organized by the center, Mr. and Mrs. Loo are now able to connect to other Chinese and Asian-Americans in Toledo.

"They are very happy when they come here," said Ms. Koh. "The center has created a community for them."

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