Way Dong Woo

  • Born: January 21, 1917
  • Died: October 21, 2016
  • Location: Newton, Massachusetts

Eaton & Mackay Funeral Home

465 Centre St
Newton, MA 02458

Tel. (617) 244-2034

Tribute & Message From The Family

Way Dong Woo died at home on October 21, 2016 after a short illness and a long and fulfillng life. He was exactly 3 months from his 100th birthday which fortuitously had been celebrated the year before as is the Chinese tradition.

He was the youngest son of a Shanghai industrialist, who chose to diverge from expectations of a life managing the family industries and enjoying the family wealth in Shanghai. Instead he excelled in engineering and graduated first in his class at Chiaotung University and then came to America to earn a doctorate in Applied Mathematics at Harvard University. He went on in his career to make contributions to the development of some of the most important technologies of the twentieth century including television and the personal computer. He worked initially in research and development labs at Harvard, Raytheon and at Honeywell before creating his own company, Kybe Corporation which manufactured an array of machines designed to service and support the growing computer industry.

He came to America in 1939 as part of a wave of bright young mainland Chinese who intended to learn from the West and return to China but who ended up staying in America rather than return to political upheaval in his native China. Among the many he met in Boston was Emily Te Fan Tsou who was studying at Wellesley College. They courted and married in 1944 and raised a family of five children. They also assisted and sponsored many nephews and nieces who came to America to study and stayed to work and raise their own families.

He was the beloved husband of the late Emily Tefan Tsou and treasured father of Elaine Woo, Beverly Woo and her husband James Cunningham, David Woo and his wife Laurie Woo, Patricia Woo and her husband Steven Poretzky, and Barbara Woo and her husband James Bryant. He was the proud grandfather of Michael Delfs and his wife Juhi Pande, Jonathan Cunningham, Emily Cunningham and her husband Jay Cohen, Christopher Woo, Kathryn Woo Coster and her husband John Coster, Kaylen Poretzky, Benjamin Poretzky, Jonathan Bryant and Alexandra Bryant.

Way Dong Woo lived his life with grace, patience and kindness to all. He had an unfailing willingness to accept and welcome everything and everyone that came his way. His most endearing and enduring gift to all was a smile that came from a happiness and contentment within and lit up his face at the least provocation.
He loved music and was said to have had the largest collection of 78 rpm records among his graduate student peers. He subscribed to the BSO from his first years in America and would happily recite the names of the BSO conductors he had heard: Koussevitzky, Munch, Leinsdorf, Steinberg, Ozawa until his failing hearing took this great joy away. He listened devotedly to Sunday afternoon radio transmissions of the Metropolitan Opera and occasionally would sing along tunelessly to his favorite arias. He loved to play tennis and particularly enjoyed decimating opponents a third his age with his deadly drop shot. He competed in tournaments at the Longwood Cricket Club until he was 93 and was proud of a national ranking of 7th in the over 90s at the time he sheathed his racket for good. He loved great food and was fortunate to be married to a superb cook. He was endlessly curious and anyone who sat next to him at dinner could expect a probing inquiry into their area of expertise: molecular biology, the law, the state of American financial institutions, astronomy, what it was like growing up in the South. He enjoyed browsing the Encyclopedia Brittanica and had worked his way systematically to M when he finally stopped. He loved a glass of good scotch. He loved his family.

He was happy and content with a life well and happily lived. He was constantly surprised that he had lived so long and at the end he openly embraced the prospect of the end of that life with joy and gratitude.

He will be celebrated and missed by many.

In lieu of flowers please feel free to make a donation in his honor to your favorite charity. Burial and memorial services will be private.


Condolence & Memory Journal

I met Uncle Way Dong Woo 51 years ago after my parents moved out to Boston from San Francisco. He and Auntie Emily are very good friends with my parents as they often play mahjong together. During that time, I played tennis with him sometimes and learned to admire him as a very gentle, soft-spoken, and intelligent man. Since I moved away from Boston in 1969, I seldom get to see him anymore except for the few times we visited Boston and whenever he and Auntie Emily come out West especially the time when they attended the celebration of our parent's 90th birthdays. In more recent years after the passing of Auntie Emily, we have grown accustomed to seeing him every year when he comes out West with some of his children to visit Patty. We will certainly miss not seeing him this year. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of his children and families today in memory of their loving father.

Bobby and Vicky Woo

Posted by Robert Woo - Yorba Linda, CA   November 13, 2016

I remember Dr. Woo's wonderful smile!
Dr. Woo and his lovely wife Emily Woo were neighbors of mine at Chestnut Hill Towers. We lived across the hall from each other and enjoyed seeing each other
as we came and went from our condos. It seemed that the two Woos always
had a tennis racket in their hand and I envied them the time and energy that they gave to the sport.
I met their lovely and loving family....very warm and friendly.
I miss those days and will always have fond memories of the Woos.

Carol Come
Chestnut Hill Towers
Condo #1105s

Posted by carol come - newton, MA - Neighbor   October 27, 2016

I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Woo for many years at Longwood. I distinctly remember one of my men's B singles matches. It was one of the first I ever played at the club. I must have been in my early 40s and Dr Woo was probably in his middle or late 60s it was one of the most competitive and difficult matches I have ever played in the Bs his drop shot was deadly to say the least. I remember him smiling and laughing throughout the match. As you can imagine we became great friends after that and we're always happy to see each other. He was a joy to be around. On a later occasion I happen to mention to Dr. Wu how I was trying to find some players for the professional tournament at the club. One of the players we were trying to recruit with very little success was Michael Chang. He told me he would look into it he called his friends at I believe Chinese cultural center in Boston and the next thing I knew Michael Chang was on his way to play the tournament. His brilliance and simplicity are the embodiment of an amazing amazing man. I feel very privilege to have known him. I will try to emulate many of these wonderful characteristics his great smile, his laugh his joy of life

Posted by Thomas Ford - Newton, MA   October 27, 2016

Way Dong and Emily had been friends of my late wife Margaret and I for over 60 years. In addition to being long time bridge partners and drinking buddies, Way Dong introduced me to the computer industry in the very early days which ultimately led me to become a player in computer manufacturing. It was an interesting and challenging experience to help Way Dong start the Kybe Corporation, which we initially named Cybertronics, Inc., in honor of Professor Norbert Wiener of MIT who coined the term. The initial product was the Digital Signal Generator, or the DPG which was an application of Way Dong's invention of the ferrite magnetic core memory. Unfortunately, even with the extremely limited memory size of only 1,000 bits, the product did not sell due to it high cost and limited applications. The next products, the Magnetic Tape Cleaner and followed by the Magnetic Disc Cleaner were much more successful. Kybe's success led it to be bought by the Denison Manufacturing Company who later became Avery Label company.

Posted by Chauncey Chu - Lincoln, MA - Friend   October 26, 2016


Posted by michelle plakas-kaiser - kaiserslautern, germany   October 26, 2016