Wayman C. Wing died of natural causes, peacefully in his sleep at the age of 97, on April 29. He was the loving husband of Eugenia (“Beah”) Chen, the father of Sandra and Roger Wing, favorite uncle to 29 nieces and nephews, and a renowned structural engineer and principal of Wayman C. Wing Consulting Engineers in New York for 60 years. He was affectionately called “Way” or “Uncle Way” or “Daddy-O” by his children, and alternately as “the Boss,” “the Captain,” or “the King.”
The eldest of six children, he was born to Chinese immigrant parents, Wong Gin and Mah Shee Wing in Evanston, on Feb. 22, 1923. He was the fourth generation of his Chinese ancestors to come to America and the first to be born in the United States. His grounded upbringing in a small town and appreciation of family, friends, teachers and mentors served as the foundation for his work ethic and future successes. He never forgot any of the people who helped him along the way.
His early successes began in high school. As a star athlete he was on the varsity baseball, basketball and football teams. As a scholar, he would give partial credit (or maybe “full” credit) to the same two classmates who sat next to him alphabetically in the “W” section throughout his high school career for helping him “get through.” It was enough to earn him a full scholarship at the University of Wyoming (UW).
World War II interrupted his college education and he enlisted in the Army Air Corps (now known as the Air Force) and rose to the level of captain. Initially, he was sent to NYU to become a meteorologist. Afterward, he was assigned to the North Atlantic where he flew in B-25 weather recon planes to observe changes in the atmospheric weather to guide merchant cargo ships and aircraft carrying supplies to Europe, as well as searching for German submarines. He was later trained to be an air traffic controller and served in the Azores off the coast of Portugal.
After WWII, Wayman returned to UW to complete his degree in civil engineering and then went on to earn a master’s degree at Stanford University. After graduation, he went on a final “bachelor’s fling,” driving cross-country with his best friend J.C. Timm to the “Big Apple,” where they had first met during the war. It was in NYC that he met the love of his life, Beah, at a New Year’s Eve party. They were married nine months later, in September 1949, and remained in New York until his death.
His first professional job was with Seelye, Stevenson, Value & Knecht, a consulting engineer firm in NYC. Mr. Seelye took him under his wing and after 12 years, he became an associate specializing in the structural design of hotels for Hilton, Marriott, Intercontinental, Sheraton and Bechtel, and became proficient at contributing articles to professional engineering journals.
In 1959, with the passing of his mentor, Mr. Seelye, Wayman made the decision to open his own firm, Wayman Wing Consulting Engineers on the 19th Floor of the Hotel Pennsylvania at 15 Penn Plaza, across from Penn Station in New York. He continued to be its principal until 2020. The motto of his firm was “Service is our Business with Engineering Imagination.” It became very successful and at its peak, had a staff of 35.
The firm did structural designs for hotels, schools, office buildings, shopping centers, civic buildings, housing projects and churches all over the world. Clients included large architectural firms such as Becket, Urbahn, Kahn & Jacobs; William B. Tabler Architects; Luckman Architects; Sheraton; Hilton; and PanAm (Intercontinental Hotels). Some of his firm’s better known projects included Intercontinental hotels in Jerusalem (now the King David Hotel), Cairo, Egypt; and Karachi, Pakistan; he also consulted on the Meridien Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the Macuto Sheraton Hotel in Caracas, Venezuela; and he designed the award-winning Sheraton Universal Hotel in Los Angeles. When trade was opened to China in 1970, Wayman Wing Consulting Engineers was the first firm from the United States invited to build there and he was involved in the planning and design of the Great Wall Hotel in Beijing.
Domestically, his firm designed and/or consulted on the One, Two and Three State Street Complex in Boston; the Washington, D.C. Hilton; the Rye Town and Tarrytown Hilton Hotels in New York; the San Francisco Hilton; the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver; the Westchester County Courthouse Complex in White Plains, New York; as well as multiple hotels in Hawaii, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Aside from his professional career, he always seemed to find time to do “consults” for his entire extended family on their new home constructions, remodeling projects, the construction and design of his daughter, Sandy’s, Winter Harbor Veterinary Hospital in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and his son, Roger’s residential home renovation projects in Colorado and Washington State.
In 1968, Wayman won the National Engineering Award for his innovative earthquake resistant structural design of the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Los Angeles. In 1970, Wayman received the New York Engineer of the Year Award, and in 1999, he was inducted into the University of Wyoming’s Hall of Fame. He has also been chosen to be archived in the American Heritage Center at the same university. In 2020, he was nominated to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in WWII.
In 1951, Way and Beah started a family with the birth of their first child, Sandy, and purchased their first home in Yonkers, New York. In 1953, their second child, Roger, arrived. In 1965, the family moved to Hastings-on-Hudson. During these years, he and Beah became accomplished tennis players and joined a neighborhood tennis club, the Amackassin Club, in Yonkers, where they developed some of their closest friendships. In 1969, Wayman designed and built our contemporary home, complete with clay tennis court, in Scarborough, where he resided until his death. His tennis court became a weekend gathering site for him, Beah and their circle of tennis cronies.
As a father and a favorite uncle, he was known as much for his playfulness as well as his “no nonsense” approach to life. No one ever dared to get out of line if he was in charge! As youngsters, he and my mother made sure to take us camping, which gave us our lifelong appreciation of nature and the outdoors. He taught us how to ride bikes, which gave us the freedom to “explore.” He played endless games of baseball and touch football with his children and our dozens of cousins. Any sport he didn’t know how to play he made sure to learn as he hated to be “left out.” He learned tennis from Beah, and they became the local Yonkers Amackassin Club mixed doubles champions; he won the Father Son Tennis Tournament more than once with his son, Roger.
Beah also taught him (and us) to play golf, which resulted in many family vacations that included that sport. When Sandy (14 at the time) wanted to get a motorboat license, he enrolled in the course as well. When both kids took up scuba diving, he signed up, too, and that also became incorporated into family vacations. And though most of those vacations sound somewhat “exotic,” they were ALWAYS to his hotel job sites which were under construction, as he was a “workaholic” and rarely took “time off” from work.
There were exceptions to this as the firm became more established and his trusted associate, Majid Montazeri, and staff were able to handle the workload and he was able to take more time off with the family. There was the annual two-week vacation to Silver Bay on Lake George, which he always looked forward to and always had a special place for in his heart; the annual family reunion and talent show, which was always fun and humorous, and for which he will always be famously remembered for his priceless performance of “the hula” with our Uncle Henry (we have it on film!).
In 1997, being game for an out-of-body experience at the age of 74, he and Beah were persuaded to go to Disneyworld in Orlando with Sandy and partook of all the rides — including Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror. On the tamer side, they both found great amusement in attending the venue with the Muppets in their 3D glasses (also recorded on film!).
In 1999, Way and Beah celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. It was a memorable four-day event in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, shared with friends and family who came from across the country. In 2013, at the age of 90, Wayman made a pilgrimage trip to China with his devoted assistants, Ursula Forster and Gala Tyagur, and his daughter, Sandy, as a final visit to the country of his heritage to spread the ashes of Beah, his beloved wife.
Wayman remained dedicated to his hometown of Evanston throughout his life and always returned for the annual 4th of July parade and high school reunions. He showed appreciation to all those who helped him throughout his life and was especially grateful for all those in his hometown.
In 2007, he designed and built a Chinese Gazebo and Garden for the city of Evanston in its downtown historic park to show his appreciation to the citizens of Evanston for the deep personal relationships established with the Wing family. Though this project was the smallest during his career, it was the one he was the most proud of. He considered it his crowning achievement, ranking higher than any of the prominent hotels and office buildings that his firm had built, as it brought him the greatest personal satisfaction.
After his beloved wife, Beah, passed away in 2013, and his own health began to decline, his “Wing Luck” prevailed in that Beah’s devoted caregivers, Ursula and Gala, stayed on to assist and care for Wayman. They became his “family” and brought new life into his household with their own family members and friends. He thrived under their care and was even able to travel to far distances with their assistance: Wyoming (several trips to Evanston and Laramie), New Hampshire, California, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and even Beijing, China, and Hong Kong.
Wayman is predeceased by his loving wife, Beah (2013); and son, Roger (1997), who was an adventurous white-water river rafter and an accomplished custom homebuilder; a younger brother, Will; and three younger sisters, Lil, Lillian and Lilac.
He is survived by his daughter, Sandra (“Sandy”), a veterinarian in New Hampshire; a sister, Lelia; 19 nieces and nephews; and “adopted” family members, his loyal and devoted assistants, Ursula and Gala.
He would have also wanted to acknowledge the names of all the people from his early years who mentored him or made an indelible mark on his life: Rudger Davis, an administrator at Evanston High School; Lavon White and Alta Fae Witham, who sat on either side of him all through school and helped him pass exams; Evanston’s Jim Davis; Harry Bodine, his Scoutmaster; Harold McCaskey, his roomate through college; Ralph McWhinnie, the registrar at the University of Wyoming who steered him toward pursuing engineering; and H.T. Persons, who fought to have him admitted to Tau Beta Pi, the honorary engineering fraternity that did not accept minorities at the time (60 years later he was awarded their “Alumnis Eminent Engineer” award).
Wayman will be long remembered for his generosity to friends, family and community, his commitment to and loyal love of family (both immediate and extended), his strong work ethic and high standards that he set for himself and those who surrounded him. A smile will be brought to the faces of all who knew his playful sense of humor and repertoire of jokes that he loved to tell (and retell), and favorite list of idioms like “taking the bull by the horns,” as well as the ones that were misspoken with a “twist,” like “it’s water “OVER” the bridge” or “water “UNDER the dam” and “it’s six to one, 16 to another.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no formal funeral service held. We are hopeful that there will be an opportunity to have a celebration of his life in the future. His ashes will be spread amongst all the special places that were landmarks in his life.
If you wish to express your condolences or have a fond memory to share regarding Wayman, please send it to Sandy Wing at 30 Point Breeze Road, Wolfeboro, NH 03894 or email to [email protected] If so inclined to make a donation in Wayman’s name, he would be pleased to have them made to the University of Wyoming Foundation – College of Engineering, 222 S. 2nd Ave., Laramie, WY 82070, or the Wyoming Community Foundation (directed toward the City of Evanston Urban Renewal, Uinta County Senior Center, Uinta County School District or the Wong Gin Wing Family Scholarship), 1472 N. 5th St., Suite 201, Laramie, WY 82072.