Call (510) 525-0135 to place an order TODAY!


Check Out Our Monthly Newsletter

golden gate bridge

From 85 Cents to Living the American Dream

June 01, 20244 min read

Bay Area Beacon Header

From 85 Cents to Living the American Dream

Darrell on His Dad's Legacy

Hi, everyone. This June, let’s remember our fathers and the impact they have on our lives. Many of you know that just a few months after my mother's passing, my father also passed away — both in 2021.

I am so fortunate to have been there with them, and they responded to me even in their final moments. Maybe my dad’s alertness was an apt way to close his incredible, hardworking, and generous life story.

When my dad came to the United States in 1949, he paid off his debtors and was left with 85 cents to start a new life. Growing up, I wouldn't have guessed a lot about my dad's story, but I always saw him keeping busy. At the store, he ordered new stock, filled shelves, and ran back and forth to the bank. At home, he wrote and read all the time. It was all in Chinese, so I never knew what he was really doing. As I grew older, I learned that he was a poet, and was also a writer by profession in China; he interviewed and wrote for a local publication.

That's pretty amazing considering he left that career behind to come to the states at 25 years old. One of the things I love about my dad is that he's always been a risk taker. He was always ambitious and had an entrepreneurial drive to succeed. He made the most of his opportunities in China as a writer while running his own produce stand in the street which led to his first store that he established as a teenager — the village general store.

Darrell Lee's Dad

When my dad came to America, he started working as a fruit picker. He later worked in a grocery store, learned all he could, then eventually opened up his own store in Berkeley (coincidentally!). Then, when he made enough and met my mother, they closed the first store and opened a new larger store in Richmond. While running their store, my dad took more risk as he got into investing in real estate. After retiring, he continued building his real estate portfolio by buying apartment buildings.

Despite how much he juggled between running the business and managing the apartments, I never felt neglected. Some of my fondest memories are of my dad taking me to dentist appointments without fail. My dad always taught me that there are always opportunities around me and to take risks when I see them. He might inspire me for a lot of reasons today, but when I was a kid, he made sure to teach me and my siblings one particular lesson: respect for others, no matter what social status they held. Our family was always taught to treat everyone the same.

My dad made his first few friends in America while working in his first job picking fruit. I say "a few," but now that he's passed, our family has come to realize just how many friends my father has made over the years. That's another amazing thing about my dad: He never lost the connections he made with his friends. He's lived a long life at 97 years old, but he spent most of it being as generous as possible — whether it was with his time or finances.

As a Chinese American poet and businessman, my dad was a constant advocate for our community and the arts. He worked at numerous leadership roles in the Chinese American community associations.

My father, along with our uncle, also built a school in China in the village where they grew up in. Yet, to be honest, I really didn't know a lot about the extent of his local involvement since he barely talked about it with us. He was a truly humble man and beloved by all. I think he always wanted to pass on his good fortune to others in any way he could.

As I spent time with my parents and cared for them as they aged, I thought about them constantly and what would come afterward. But, looking at their legacies and my life now, I have total clarity and a renewed appreciation for my family, business, and future. I have been partnered with a Bay Area nonprofit dental clinic to help and give back to our community. Together, we give needed dental care to more patients and to those whose treatments are not covered by insurance, and now knowing my dad's story, it makes me proud and inspired to carry on his legacy of charity and local involvement.

The example my dad set and the lessons he taught have stuck with me for my whole life. He inspires me and gives me the drive to do better every day — I couldn't be more grateful. Thanks Dad, and happy Father's Day to all of you!

Darrell Lee

Berkeley dental lab contact info

Dentistrydental workdental labbay areaberkeleysan franciscoDarrell Leefathers dayinspiration
Darrell Lee has been a key part of Berkeley Dental Laboratory for over three decades. In 2008 he purchased the company from its previous owners and has built it into what it has become today.

Darrell Lee

Darrell Lee has been a key part of Berkeley Dental Laboratory for over three decades. In 2008 he purchased the company from its previous owners and has built it into what it has become today.

Back to Blog

Request Your New Doctor Kit

Your New Doctor Kit includes everything you'll need to get started and to let us help you make your patients smile!

Connect With Us

Don't receive our Monthly Newsletter?

Subscribe to Berkeley Dental Lab's monthly newsletter for the latest industry insights, business tips, and strategies to boost your dental practice. Stay informed, stay ahead—Click the button below and join now!

Copyright 2024 | Berkeley Dental Laboratory™ | Terms & Conditions

Copyright 2024 | Berkeley Dental Laboratory™ | Terms & Conditions