Tse, who was 68 years old, died last July after he was involved in a minor car accident on his way to the senior center. In what officials have called a “fit of road rage,” the other driver involved in the incident, 44-year-old Cleamon Anderson, punched Tse to the ground and left him unconscious.
After spending a week in a coma, Tse passed away after he was taken off life support. Anderson was charged with felony assault, according to reports, though officials rallied for his charges to be upgraded.
On Friday evening, one year after Tse’s death, dozens of seniors took part in a candlelight vigil at the senior center to honor his life.
“We are gathered today not to evoke the circumstances of his death, but to celebrate the tremendous strength, compassion and vitality of his life,” Koo said. “Mr. Tse was an unsung hero in our community. Over the past seven years, he volunteered as a cook at the Selfhelp Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center without even taking a day off.”
“Ask any of the seniors here and they will tell all about what a funny and friendly man he was,” he added. “They all still talk about him and we will miss him.”
Koo said Tse’s dedication to the community shows how anyone can be an “everyday hero” by impacting the lives of others.
“Although he’s gone, Mr. Tse’s teachings will remain always in our hearts,” he said.
Family spokesman Karlin Chan reminded the seniors that though Tse has passed away, he lives on in everybody’s memory. He called Tse a “simple but courageous man” who brought his family from Hong Kong to the United States, learned carpentry and provided for his family.
“Vincent Tse, even though physically he’s not here, he’s still with all of us here,” Chan said.
Tse’s son Steven said when his family came to the country in 1983, his father initially didn’t want to make the trip.
“But for the good of the family and to educate his children, he came,” he said. “He sacrificed to come here. I really and truly appreciate that.”
After his death, Steven said his family was going through Tse’s belongings when he found all of the certificates his father received as a volunteer at the senior center.
“He never showed it to his family,” Tse said. “After I found them, I was very proud of my dad.”
Jane Qiu, the program director at the senior center, called Tse a “peaceful man” who loved to help others. He also volunteered at his church, Qiu said.
“One year later, our center and the community are still mourning him and missing him,” she said.
Seniors wrote their memories of Tse on Post-It notes, and stuck them onto a cardboard display with Tse’s pictures. His pastor held a brief prayer service at the vigil as well.
Just this past month, Qiu heard some of the center’s members talking about Tse and what he did for the community.
“Vincent is an example to do things more for others, to volunteer,” Qiu said. “Together, we are going to build a better community for all.”