A recent post about long-ago downtown Westport included a photo of West Lake restaurant.
Located at the head of Main Street, next to the old library park, West Lake served Chinese food when that was the epitome of foreign cuisine.
An alert “06880” reader wanted to learn more. Several Google searches later, he found a long blog posted soon after Frances Lee’s memorial service.
Frances and her husband, Edward Wonkai Lee, opened West Lake in 1950. They operated it — very successfully — for the next 25 years.
Frances Lee died on December 6, 2009 — 2 days after her 101st birthday.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, she graduated at the top of her class at Manhattan’s Julia Richmond High School in 1926. Frances earned an accounting degree with honors from New York University in 1930. She was of one of very few Chinese-American women of that era with a college degree.
Frances and Edward married in 1930. They raised their family through the Depression and World War II, and survived the vagaries of life in the United States and China during the 1930s and ’40s.
In China, she was secretary to the President of Lingnan University in Kwangchow (Guangzhou), and served as a translator-interpreter at the U. S. Consulate in Hong Kong until she and her family were repatriated in 1942.
In 1950 the Lees opened West Lake. The rest is Westport history.