The Founding Fathers of Pi Alpha Phi hailed primarily from the state of California. Elmer Leong, George Lee, and D. Wing Tom were from the San Francisco Bay Area. Tim Jang, Wing Chan, and his younger brother Chack Chan came from the Central Valley of California. All were born in America with the exception of Wing Chan, who came from China at an early age. The men studied science and engineering, which was considered a better path to employment after graduation since racial discrimination prevented most Asians from entering into lucrative fields such as law, or medicine.
Their challenges grew as they found out that student lodging was often not rented to those of Asian heritage. It was especially difficult for Tim, Wing, and Chack from the Central Valley for whom commuting was not an option. Their problem was solved by the goodwill of a sympathetic German woman known as Mother Tusch, who also had been a victim of racism. The seeds of brotherhood were planted in the cabin she rented to Wing, Elmer, and D. Wing Tom behind her house near Sather Gate.
The six men proceeded with their college careers, engaging in academic and social events, as well as athletics. Elmer Leong even joined the university track team. They found great comfort and camaraderie in their small group, but felt compelled to turn their group into more than a circle of friends, more than a club, more than a social gathering. They decided to form a formal fraternity of brothers that would bind them forever; a fraternity that would break the status quo and seek recognition from the university system.
Following graduation in the early 1930's, the Founding Fathers found life difficult. The country was in the midst of the Great Depression and discrimination against those of Asian heritage for jobs was even more prevalent. Four of the six - Wing Chan, Chack Chan, D. Wing Tom, and George Lee - went to China to find employment and new lives. Tim and Elmer stayed in America to continue their education and start a career despite the difficult circumstances. The four in China prospered, with Wing teaching chemistry at a university in Canton; Chack Chan working in the local aircraft industry; George Lee pursuing a medical degree; and all four found their wives and started their families.
In 1937, with the advent of war in China, all returned home to America with the exception of Wing, who returned after World War II. During wartime, each of the founding fathers made contributions to their country. For example, Tim enlisted in the U.S. Navy Seebees. He served as a construction corpsman for the 132nd Naval Construction Battalion in the Pacific. Chack put his engineering skills to use as a draftsman at the famed Henry J. Kaiser naval shipyard in Richmond, California, where many of the country's great warships were built.
All six men educated themselves, started families, and followed their careers in support of a full and meaningful life. On the way, they created a Brotherhood. Tim Jang, the last surviving Founder of the fraternity, passed away on March 20, 2007.