by Karen Ginn
Roy Gway Ginn was born on November 12, 1912, Toisan (Taishan) region of Kwong Tung (Guangdong) Province, China. He lived in Loong Kai Li, a small village consisting of twelve homes. Life in China had many hardships. As a boy, Roy had big dreams and ambitions. Everyone heard about a better life in America! San Francisco was known as Gold Mountain after gold was first discovered in the state in 1848, and Chinese traveled to California in search of wealth and fortune.
At the age of 18, Roy left China. He boarded a ship bound for America, the land of gold, in 1930. He was interned on San Francisco Bay’s Angel Island. He, like everyone aboard, was detained and rigorously interrogated before being released. He then lived in Chinatown at the “living station,” a temporary living quarters; one room shared by six men who paid rent. This was temporary housing until work was found. At a place of employment, it also served as housing where workers ate their meals and sometimes slept on the floor. Most Chinese men found work as servants and in the garment industry. Roy was lucky; since he spoke a little English, he soon worked in a US job. He saved his money and returned to China.
Japan invaded China in 1937. Roy served in the China Air Force as a pilot. He enjoyed flying. His arranged marriage to Sue Woon Yee changed his life and soon he was a father to two sons; Albert and Arthur Ginn. They remained in China, while Roy returned to America. He worked hard, saved every penny and was able to send for his family in 1949. His son Albert was 11 and Arthur 9, when they arrived in San Francisco.
Roy worked at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard (Hunters Point) as a welder. He was very knowledgeable from his training in the China Air Force. During this time, Alan and Arnold Ginn were born in 1951 and 1952. After World War II, Roy stayed on at the naval shipyard where he continued working as a welder until 1958. Roy soon fulfilled his dreams and ambitions. With his knowledge for business and saving his hard earned dollars, he purchased property on Grant Ave. The large property had a store front with two units on the second floor. Sue Woon did not speak English, but with her friendly personality and joy of cooking, she made many friends. They decided to open a garment factory and with her sewing skills they had a thriving business. Roy took charge of the pickup and delivery of the garment orders to the company and managed the books, while Sue ran the sewing production.
Roy decided to invest in more property and headed east to the capital city of Sacramento in the 1960’s. There they owned two apartment complexes. Still managing the apartments, some years later they moved into a single family home to enjoy their retirement. They loved to garden, played mahjong and enjoyed the wonders of travel. They lived a wonderful and full life with their growing family.
Roy Gway Ginn peacefully passed away in 1993, at the age of 81 to join his wife Sue, who passed in 1992.
They are beloved by their sons, Albert, Arthur, Alan and Arnold, and their families which include ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren to carry on the Ginn legacy.
Plaque in honor of Roy Gway Ginn on Angel Island Immigraition Station
Place of Origin
Place of Settlement