David C. Lam, Canada's first ethnic Chinese lieutenant-governor and a man who as a major real estate developer helped shape Vancouver's skyline, has died of prostate cancer at the age of 87.
After his family announced his death on Monday, tributes poured in, with Premier Gordon Campbell describing Dr. Lam as "a great British Columbian and a great Canadian " who will be deeply missed.
"He served with pride and distinction, and his vision of Canada included a place where immigrants would find refuge and opportunity. He contributed much to the fabric of British Columbia, and his generosity and kindness will never be forgotten," Mr. Campbell said.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson described him as "one of our most accomplished and respected citizens," and said he would be mourned across Canada.
"Dr. Lam's name is connected with many Vancouver landmarks including the David Lam Park in False Creek, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the Vancouver Dragon Boat race, Simon Fraser University's David Lam Centre for International Communication and UBC's David Lam Management Research Centre," Mr. Robertson said.
"He was well-known for his limitless generosity as a philanthropist who supported many Vancouver institutions and parks, including the restoration of Stanley Park in 2007," he said.
Dr. Lam was born in Hong Kong in 1923, and after obtaining an economics degree at Lingnan University in China and an MBA at Temple University in Philadelphia, he began a career in banking, before moving to Vancouver in 1967.
In B.C. he obtained a diploma in real estate appraisal, in 1972, and became a successful developer and real estate investor as president of Canadian International Properties Ltd.
Dr. Lam founded the Floribunda Philanthropic Society and the David and Dorothy Lam Foundation and donated substantial funds to cultural projects in his adopted province and country.
He served as Chairman of Hong Kong Baptist College, trustee of the Chancellor's Circle at the University of British Columbia, which later awarded him an honorary degree, and was a benefactor to the David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies, at Hong Kong Baptist University.
In 1988 he was sworn in as the 25th Lieutenant-Governor of B.C., a position he held until 1995.
He described his role as being the "healer of wounds, a matchmaker of sorts between people of different views, and one who offers encouragement and inspiration."
He has been awarded both the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia.
Dr. Lam was predeceased by wife of 43 years, Dorothy, who passed away in 1997, and he leaves his daughters Debbie, Daphne (Raymund), and Doreen (Philip), and his seven grandchildren: Caroline, Jaclyn, Michael, Christina, Christopher, Brian, and Jennifer.
His family has announced a celebration of his life will be held 2 p.m. Saturday at the Richmond Funeral Home, with a private cremation at a later date.
The family asks that donations in his memory be made to the BC Cancer Foundation, Living Word Chinese Baptist Church and Far East Broadcasting Canada.