The Kin On Executive Committee of the Board, meeting for the first time at its new facility in 1996: Seated (from left): Ben Woo, Henry Chin, Ark Chin, Fred Yee, Jeni Mar and Anne Wing. Standing (from left): Benson Wong, Ed Wong, Sam Wan, Jeni Fung and Rani Cheung (staff member). Photo courtesy of Sam Wan

Dr. Henry Han Chin, a beloved local dentist and early health care champion for Asian seniors, passed away at his Seattle home on July 9 at the age of 72.

“Henry was kind, generous, friendly, and community-minded,” said Sam Wan, the first director of Kin On. “Though he had a very busy professional career, he was always available to provide guidance and support. He will be dearly missed in our community.”

Chin was born to Chong Lee and Yee Ling Chin in Toisan, China on March 1, 1951. He spent his early years in Hong Kong. Chin studied dentistry at the University of Washington, specializing in pediatric dentistry, before completing his studies in New York. After returning to Seattle, Chin opened his dental practice on South Jackson Street in the heart of the Chinatown International District (CID) in 1980. He practiced there — providing dental care to many Chinese-speaking patients in the area — until he moved his practice to Capitol Hill in 2003. He retired in 2020.

Chin was a founding member of Kin On, the nation’s first bilingual Chinese American nursing home, in 1985. The organization launched a $500,000 campaign to start a 63-bed Chinese nursing home in Southeast Seattle in 1987. Kin On raised over $3 million to open an expanded 100-bed facility in 1996. Chin was a board member of Kin On until 2014, serving as president from 1998 to 1999. At the time of his death, he had been considering rejoining the board.

Jessica Wong, Director of Philanthropy at Kin On, recalled first meeting Chin at his dental office years ago. “I went there not knowing what to expect, but he was very kind, calm and welcoming,” she said. 

“He shared that many years before Kin On existed, he had a family member who required skilled nursing care. There was no facility dedicated to serving the Chinese population at that time, so that person stayed in a regular facility. He saw how challenging it was for his family member — being away from family, not being able to communicate with staff and not having the foods that he was used to.”

Dorothy Wong, former director of International Community Health Services (ICHS), noted that Chin filled a community service void, serving many ICHS patients before the agency established its own dental clinic. “Dr. Chin was very generous and did what he could,” she said. “During my time, we started offering dental care in the mid-1990s at our new Holly Park site because the need for dental care was so great.” After the CID clinic reopened in ID Village Square in 1998, she added, dental services were offered there as well. 

Willon Lew said he, Warren Wong, and Henry Chin were best friends in college. 

One afternoon, Warren and I decided to visit the UW Dental School where Henry just started studying,” Lew said. 

“While we waited for him in the dental laboratory, Henry realized he was missing some dental gold. He looked everywhere, but the gold seemed to have vanished into thin air. Warren and I were the only people present. Our friendship seemed to hang in the balance. Henry was relentless, expanding his search beyond the laboratory and repeatedly questioning us. In hindsight, we didn’t fully grasp the pressure he was facing as a young dental student. Warren and I were busy joking around. Eventually, Henry triumphantly announced that he had found the gold in his locker. Our friendship was unshaken. Over the years, our bond remained strong.”

Henry was preceded in death by his late brother Larry (Rosalind.) He is survived by his wife, Garbo; Larry and Rosalind’s children: Chanelle (Ivan), Jadon and Christen (Nainoa); his sister, Hazel (Robbie) and nephews, Noah and Tyler. 

A service will be held on Saturday, July 29 at 11:00 am at Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home & Cemetery, 11111 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98133. A private viewing will be from 10:00 to 11:00 am.

In lieu of flowers, consider donating to Kin On via

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