We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Dr. Franklin Chu of Bainbridge Island, a great humanitarian who left China as a young refugee in the 1950s, served in the United States Public Health Service and became a respected ophthalmologist in his Bainbridge Island community, fulfilling roles as a church and community leader as well as the beloved patriarch of a large and loving family. Born in China in 1943 to Daniel and Shirley Chu, Franklin and his twin, Winston, were named after the two prominent world leaders, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. At age 7, the family escaped communist China, moving first to Hong Kong and then to Malaysia where his father served as a Lutheran missionary, having been trained at Hamma Divinity School in Springfield, Ohio. In 1955, as communist-affected refugees, the family emigrated to the United States sponsored by St Luke’s Lutheran church in Springfield. Being 12 years old, knowing no English, Franklin and his twin acquired a paper route shortly after arriving; this job became the first in a string of many that he and his brother worked to help support the family and earn money for college.
Franklin graduated high school with honors and attended Wittenberg University in Springfield before transferring to Ohio State to pursue pre-med studies. A proud Buckeye, Franklin graduated OSU magna cum laude in 1966, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and began medical school at Johns Hopkins University. Before he became an ophthalmologist, he did residencies in ob/gyn and internal medicine as an officer in the United States Public Health Service. Attaining the rank of Commander, Dr. Chu served as a Deputy Chief at the USPHS and VA hospitals in Seattle as well as a clinical faculty instructor for ophthalmic surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He left the USPHS in 1979 to engage in private ophthalmology practice in Kitsap County. Dr. Chu was active in state, regional and national ophthalmology organizations, serving as a guest lecturer, chair of several committees, and president of the Washington Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. Chu retired in 2003, but from 2001-2009, he led several medical mission trips to China to train local physicians in the art of cataract surgery. This experience deeply affected him as he witnessed many of the patients having their sight restored after years of blindness.
In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Chu was active in multiple community and religious organizations, serving on several boards including the Compass Housing Alliance, the ELCA NW Synod Council, Martha and Mary, Bainbridge Sister Island Hurricane Katrina Relief, and the Bainbridge Chorale. A long-time member of Bethany Lutheran Church, Dr. Chu held many leadership roles, was a mentor to youth and offered a strong voice to the church choir.
Known for his generosity and his love of cooking, Franklin seized every opportunity to entertain and treat family and friends with his favorite foods. Seahawks games were always a reason to gather a crowd for feasting and cheering. Picking up golf after retirement gave him great pleasure and we are indebted to his friends and brother Dan who went out of their way to help him play as long as he was able.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, Franklin was a source of inspiration, optimism and courage as he continued to live life to the fullest with humor and grace. Franklin is survived by his mother Shirley Chu, wife Linnea, his children Jennifer Chu (Mike Walton), Dr. Catherine Chu (Mark Kramer) and son David (Ana), stepchildren Matthew Simons (Kattarina), Marco Simons (Shaheena), grandchildren, Mira, Saya, Davin, Fiona, Juliana, Leila, Emil and Ariana, brother Dan (Sue), sister Elizabeth Domahidy (George) and several nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and an uncle. Faith, family and fellowship were the guideposts of his life. He was preceded in death by his twin brother and father.
A memorial service and reception is scheduled for 10 am, Saturday, August 25th at Silverdale Lutheran Church, 11701 Ridgepoint Drive NW, followed by viewing and graveside services at Haven of Rest in Gig Harbor from 2-3 pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bethany Lutheran Church, Compass Housing Alliance, the Church of Steadfast Love and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. The family would like to thank the stellar staff at Virginia Mason including Dr. Vincent Picozzi, Dr. Sophie Woolston, Dr. Scott Helton and Dr. Mark Beiter for their compassionate care and concern.