Mr. William Hockly Collom

  • Born: July 3, 1929
  • Died: May 4, 2021
  • Location: South San Francisco, California

Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home - FD-230

977 S. El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94402

wecare@ssofunerals.com
Tel. (650) 343-1804

Tribute & Message From The Family


Loving Father, Husband and Grandfather

Message From The Family

We would like to express our sincere thanks to each of you for the love, prayers and support you have given us. May God's peace be with you all.

William Hockly Collom was born on July 3, 1929 in Hong Kong as the third child to Captain William James Collom and Ruby Mak.  His two older sisters were Winnie and Janet.   He attended Diocesan Boys School, but was disrupted through wartime and later switched to Wai Yan College and eventually graduated from St. Joseph College on Kennedy Road.

Bill, as he was preferred to be called, entered the Technical College in September of 1949 and obtained the Postmaster General's 2nd Class Certificate in Wireless Telegraphy in August of 1952, then set off to sea.  In 1955, he obtained the 1st Class Certificate in Wireless Telegraphy before returning to sea.  Bill served as a Radio Officer and later as a Chief Radio Officer onboard many commercial and passenger ships that plied the world for a decade.

In 1960, he joined Cable & Wireless Co. Ltd., Hong Kong, as Programme Technician in the Studios of Radio Hong Kong when he met the love of his life, Dora.  He married her in 1964 at Saint Paul's Church and eventually had three children.  

In January of 1962, he was hired as the seventh Immigration Inspector in the Crown Colony of Hong Kong and dedicated himself to the work wholeheartedly until he retired as Assistant Principal Immigration Officer at age 55 after 22 years of service. 

At home, he was a sensitive and caring husband and father.  While emphasizing the importance of education, he also made sure his children enjoyed and participated in sports activities.  He was an avid tennis player, enjoyed golf, ballroom dancing, water skiing, swimming and bowling. He had to give up riding his motorcycle when his wife gave him an ultimatum. He and his wife enjoyed entertaining and attending social events with their friends they made through the years.

In 1984, he moved to the United States and settled in South San Francisco, California.  He spent his retirement with his family, enjoying his grandchildren and videotaping their every move.  He was excellent at keeping in touch with his friends and colleagues from around the world and received "wall-fuls" of Christmas cards every year.  He loved traveling the Globe with his wife and friends.  He continued to play tennis until he was 82, annoying his tennis buddies with his drop shots.

Bill is survived by his wife of 57 years, his two elder sisters, his two daughters, his son and his two grandsons and two granddaughters.

Bill's Education & Career Backstory:

Bill treasured his education. Every time the topic of schooling came up, he would mention how his was interrupted by the Japanese Occupation. In that light, it is of paramount importance to describe his experience during the war years. In December of 1941, the British Governor surrendered the Crown Colony of Hong Kong to the Empire of Japan. Bill was twelve years old at the time. The occupying force soon imposed their own education system on the school children of Hong Kong. The Diocesan Boys' School (DBS), where Bill was a student, was commandeered by the Japanese Military. He bitterly recalled three years and eight months of suffering under the hands of the conquerors. He remembered starvation, and he remembered helping his family make ends meet by doing odd jobs wherever and however he found them. One job he took up was carrying Japanese passengers on the back of his bicycle to and from the horse-racing track in Happy Valley on race days. He said when he got lucky, he got paid for the ride, but when he was unlucky, he got a slap in the face as payment. It was also during these bike rides that he witnessed the carnage caused by Allied Bombings. He recalled seeing human parts strewn about the streets of Wanchai as he rode through.

He described other scenes that seem surreal now. He said the occupying Japanese considered his father, William James, too old to pose a threat so he was allowed to stay home with his family. One evening, Bill's family observed a squad of Japanese soldiers conducting door-to-door search of the neighborhood. His mother Ruby, ever the quick thinker under pressure, decided to "hide" her husband in the kitchen because it was the farthest room from the front door. Moments later, Bill described a young Japanese soldier charging through the front door, bayonet mounted on the tip of his rifle, screaming in Japanese as he charged into every room of the flat, obviously seeking blood. Bill then described a miracle. He said it was as if the soldier got tired of his own screaming rage, he ignored the door to the kitchen and walked out of the flat without another word.

There was also the time when he and his eldest sister Winnie walked by a Japanese military post and Winnie refused to bow at the sight of the building. Bill reminded Winnie to bow but Winnie defiantly said, "Just keep walking and pretend we don't read Chinese or Japanese!" To his horror, a Japanese soldier caught up to them and dragged them into the military post. They were ordered to stand in the post commander's office and wait for the commander to punish them. Bill's immediate thought was being executed at such a young age. After being detained for a few hours, Bill and Winnie were let go with stern warnings. Over the years, Bill expressed his deepest gratitude to Winnie for quitting school and keeping the family afloat during and after The War.

The Japanese surrendered in August of 1945. By that time, Bill was 16 years old and missed almost four years of British schooling. In April of 1946, Bill entered the Saint Joseph's College on Kennedy Road and finished his secondary school education in July of 1949. In a recommendation letter, the School Principal wrote this about Bill, "During his time in school his conduct was excellent; he was polite, obliging and co-operative. We take pleasure in recommending him for any post suited to his attainment."

Following secondary school, Bill entered the Technical College in September of 1949 and obtained the Postmaster General's 2nd Class Certificate in Wireless Telegraphy in August of 1952. After being at sea for three years, Bill returned to the Technical College and obtained his 1st Class Certificate in Wireless Telegraphy in March of 1955 before returning to sea. Upon Bill's graduation, the Principal at the Technical College wrote, "Mr. Collom is a man of pleasant personality and was well liked by the staff and his fellow students. His attendance was excellent and his conduct unexceptionable. He is always cheerful and polite, and I am glad to recommend him."

Bill's world-travelling ambition came to fruition as he served as a radio officer on board many commercial and passenger ships that plied the world for a decade. Of all the destinations, his fondest memory was by far in Seoul, Korea. In his last post as a sailor, Bill served as the Chief Radio Officer onboard the passenger ship Taipoohong from October of 1958 to May of 1960. Upon Bill's resignation, the Manager at the Shun Cheong Steam Navigation Company wrote, "During his (Bill's) period of service, he has always been sober, hard-working and conscientious, and we have no hesitation to recommend him to anyone requiring his services."

In June of 1960, Bill declared his wish to remain on land by writing a letter to the Director of Manpower in Hong Kong, "This is to inform you that I have recently returned to the Colony for an indefinite stay. At present, I am employed by Cable & Wireless Co. Ltd., Hong Kong, as Programme Technician in the Studios of Radio Hong Kong." Bill met the love of his life Dora during his two years' service at the Cable & Wireless Company.

In 1961, Bill decided to seek a government career with a defined upward career path and a pension. He secretly wished to be a Marine Department Lighthouse Keeper, but he knew he couldn't raise a family on many of the barren rock islands that lighthouses in Hong Kong were located. On August 4, 1961, Bill turned-down a job offer from the Civil Aviation Department, "I regret that I am now not in a position to accept your offer, as the initial pay is rather low." On the same day, Bill delivered his application to the newly established Immigration Department (established August 4, 1961). He answered an advertisement published in South China Morning Post under Hong Kong Government Vacancies. The advertisement read, "Immigration Inspectors in the Immigration Department, Pensionable (on probation in the first instance). Salary: $930-$1845 per month by 15 increments. Qualifications: Preferably 25-35 years of age; Hong Kong English School Certificate or Hong Kong Chinese School Certificate with a credit in English; or equivalent; fluent spoken Cantonese and good written English and Chinese; knowledge of other Chinese dialects an advantage; experiences in a supervisory capacity in a disciplined force or Her Majesty's Forces; sound physique. Duties: General duties in connection with the enforcement of immigration laws of the Colony. Supervision of the work of subordinate staff."

On November 29, 1961, the Director of Immigration extended the job offer to Bill. On January 2, 1962, Bill resigned from the Cable & Wireless Company and became the seventh Immigration Inspector in the Crown Colony of Hong Kong. Prior to the establishment of the Hong Kong Immigration Department in 1961, an arm of the Hong Kong Police handled immigration matters. At 32 years old Bill felt, and he was proven correct, that he would have a better chance of gaining new experience and climbing the career ladder in a newly established department rather than in the "Old Boy's Network" of the century-old colonial police force.

Bill threw himself upon the Immigration Department wholeheartedly. He considered the department his second family. He held the positions of Immigration Inspector, Senior Immigration Inspector, Chief Immigration Inspector and Assistant Principal Immigration Officer (Superintendent) in his 22-plus years of service. He fondly recalled being the post commander at the Lo Wu Control Point and Kai Tak International Airport, his stints at the Immigration Headquarters, his long nights in Investigations, his days on the Immigration launch (and the fresh seafood), the parties, the mess food, the inspectorate housing in Fanling, and he not-so-fondly recalled being the post commander at the Victoria Prison (he did like his parking spot inside the Central Police Station Compound though).

In 1967, Bill served as the post commander at the Lo Wu Control Point where he oversaw the busiest point of entry into British Territory from the People's Republic of China (PRC). 1967 was also the year of the Hong Kong Riots. Between 1967 and 1968, Bill oversaw the repatriation of British diplomats from the PRC to Hong Kong, U.K. In a news article published by the South China Morning Post, Bill was photographed standing behind a British diplomat who reunited with his wife. Behind Bill was the Union Jack waving in the wind above the train station's canopy while the Red Flag of the PRC waved in the wind on the other side of the canopy. Bill loved that post and he loved the inspectorate housing in Fanling where his daughters were born.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bill was the post commander at Kai Tak International Airport. Over the years, he couldn't hide his smile every time he talked about that post. He met people of all walks in life at the airport, but his greatest entertainment came from people who were television/movie stars or people who thought they were stars. He enjoyed that post and the camaraderie there so much, he was always at the airport whether he was needed or not!

Over the years, Bill fought for equality with white Expat Immigration officers. His earliest victory on that front, and the one which brought the biggest smile on his face in retirement, was when he fought the department over leather briefcases embossed with the officer's initials. Those briefcases were only issued for free to arriving Expat officers and the local hires had to buy them. Bill thought that was fundamentally wrong, and against the advice of his immediate boss, Bill petitioned the department to issue those briefcases to all officers. The battle took months, status quo was challenged, careers were jeopardized, protocols were broken, but in the end the department issued local officers those embossed briefcases for free also. Bill made a few career-enemies but gained a lot more friends and respect during that fight.

Bill didn't talk about his job at the Immigration Department too much but he talked about his cohorts constantly. He made many many lifelong friends in the short 22 years he was at the department. He deeply respected everyone's friendship, talents and dedication. He spent a significant portion of his retirement keeping up with old friends and colleagues at the Immigration Department which he affectionately called, "Immigration." He welcomed Immigration retirees to America whenever they visited or emigrated. When Bill visited Hong Kong, he would spend more than half his vacation having tea and following up with "Immigration People." Ten years after Bill's retirement, it was very clear to his family that Immigration was not just a career to Bill, but a lifestyle that defined his retirement.

In 2018, Bill's son had the honor of attending the Immigration Department Retiree Annual Dinner in Hong Kong. To his son's surprise, table after table, the attendees recognized him as "Collom-Sir's son," even though they have never met. In their recollection of Bill, the recurring theme echoed what the Principal at Saint Joseph's College, the Principal at Hong Kong Technical College, and the Manager at Shun Cheong Steam Navigation Company have written about Bill prior to his service at the Immigration Department, "(Bill's) conduct was excellent; he was polite, obliging and co-operative…Mr. Collom is a man of pleasant personality and was well liked by the staff and his fellow students. His attendance was excellent and his conduct unexceptionable. He is always cheerful and polite…During his period of service, he has always been sober, hard-working and conscientious, and we have no hesitation to recommend him to anyone requiring his services." Some things never change.


Services


Condolence & Memory Journal

Today 3Jul2021 you would have been 92 Uncle William, I will be missing the family photos that you would always send after, updating us with how you spent your special event with all the family. And the 4th of July will never quite be the same for family and friends from this year on wards.
I still have fond memories of when we were in SF a decade ago in 2011 and you were our Tour Guide driving us around everywhere showing us the sights, even if I laid very low in the back seat, grasping my seat belt and car door handle, bracing as you got on to highways, merging into traffic casually in your very own style at 82. We will always be grateful and treasure that special time you spent with Ronnie and I, and also be grateful that we all returned in one piece and alive after each outing, lol. We were also so happy to see you once again 2016 and spend time with you at home with Auntie Dora's wonderful and scrumptious home cooked meals. And Jason and Dylan taking over as tour guides to show us around town and Mountains this time, while staying with them and Michelle. And Also spending a day or two with Karen, Robert, Christine, Bill, Kaitlyn, Sean and Isabella as they showed us around as well. Such very special times with my very special Collom side of the Family. You are and will forever be missed. But the Memories will always be fond, cheerful and extraordinary ones. Take a good rest Uncle William you deserve it. As you've had an exceptional, busy and very full life with the wonderful family that you and Auntie Dora have so proudly raised, and the hundreds of people who call you friend.

Love and will miss you always Michele, Ronnie, Ryan and Karine
(Here is a treasured photo of us together in 2011 on your Special Tours and a few more treasured pics of our 2011/2016 visits in the Community Photos)

Posted by Michele Rosario-Chan - Ottawa, CA - Family   July 03, 2021

Dearest William, Beloved little Brother, Uncle, and Grand Uncle,
We are saddened that you have left us so soon, but we will always cherish all our special memories of the wonderful and also trying childhood we had surviving the war. And all the great times we had after with family gatherings with all our families together. And still keeping in constant touch after your move to San Francisco. You will be missed by all our family. Have a good rest little brother.
And our sincere condolences Dora, Christine, Karen, Jason and your families.

Love Winnie (Sister), Pat, Lincoln, Wayne (Niece & Nephews), Evelyn and Gregory (Grandniece & Grandnephew)

Posted by Winnie Chao - Hong Kong - Sister   May 22, 2021

You'll always be our Beloved Baby Brother, William. We survived a war together, when we were so young and I remember we were so scared when the Japanese soldiers came to our flat and we scratched out our last names on all our text books so that they wouldn't see that we had British last names and hid our Father. We all made it through the Japanese Occupation and the 2nd World War. We all grew up to have happy lives and great families with wonderful children and grandchildren. And we all lived into our 90's. What a blessing for all of us. But I guess it was time for you to take a well deserved rest after such a full and active life. We pray for you, Dora, Christine, Karen, Jason and your grandchildren who have our deepest condolences.

Love always Sis Janet

Posted by Janet Rosario - Ottawa, Canada - Sister   May 22, 2021

"To my dear dear Uncle William,

I have nothing but fond memories of you. You have always been my favourite relative, always friendly, cheerful and with a great sense of humour. You will certainly be missed. However, on reflection, you have lived a very happy, fruitful and meaningful life. To have lived such a great long life and to pass away peacefully is an enviable blessing.

You are still well loved by everyone and will be greatly missed. May you rest in peace. God bless you.."

Posted by Mark Rosario - Hong Kong - Family   May 13, 2021

Dear Aunt Dora, Christine, Karen and Jason,

Our deepest condolences from the Li and Yu family to you. Uncle Bill had left fond memories in my heart. Your family will be in my prayers.

Love, Rosa (Raymond and Veronica)

Posted by Rosa Yu - Hong Kong - Family   May 12, 2021

Although I've only met uncle Bill for a few times during my highschool years with Jason, he has always been kind and willing to open up our young eyes to more knowledge. He will be missed. My condolence to the Collom family. Take care.

Posted by Vindician Chang - South San Francisco, CA - Friend   May 11, 2021

Dear Mrs Collom and Jason, we will always remember Collom Sir as one of the best leaders and role model for us. Our deepest condolences to you and family for the passing of Collom Sir, whom we will meet again in our eternal home someday. Please take good care.

Posted by Soo Man CHAU - Hong Kong - Friend   May 11, 2021

Dear Auntie Collom and the Collom family, our heartfelt condolences for your loss. We have such fond memories of Uncle Collom. Although we have not visited with him in recent years, his warmth and smile are still very vivid in our minds. May his soul Rest In Peace. Sending our love and prayers your way. With deepest sympathy, Ben, Mabel and Aidan Kung

Posted by Mabel Kung - Hacienda Heights, CA   May 11, 2021

Uncle William was my dad's best friend. Their friendship started even before they became teenagers living in the old Happy Valley area. My dad, Tak-Chiu, still recollects many fond childhood memories with uncle, roaming about the old neighbourhood making harmless mischief. The fun in the softball team in which Uncle William played the shortstop on the field while my dad was the pitcher.
Uncle will be dearly missed, especially by my dad. We offer our deepest condolences to Aunt Dora and the family.
Love,
Tak-Chiu Chan, David and Tracy Chan, Rosana and Po Chan

Posted by David Chan - Toronto, Canada - Family Friend   May 10, 2021

Uncle Bill will be fondly remembered for his jovial demeanor and brilliant smile. He leaves behind an amazing legacy of his fantastic family. He will be dearly missed. May he rest in peace. Love Moe and Family

Posted by Lawrence To - Belmont, CA - Family   May 08, 2021


Family Album


Community Photos

Uncle William was my dad’s best friend. Their friendship started even before they became teenagers living in the old Happy Valley area. My dad, Tak-Chiu, still recollects many fond childhood memories with uncle, roaming about the old neighbourhood making harmless mischief. The fun in the softball team in which Uncle William played the shortstop on the field while my dad was the pitcher. Uncle will be dearly missed, especially by my dad. We offer our deepest condolences to Aunt Dora and the family. Love, Tak-Chiu Chan, David and Tracy Chan, Rosana and Po Chan
You'll always be our Beloved Baby Brother, William. We survived a war together, when we were so young and I remember we were so scared when the Japanese soldiers came to our flat and we scratched out our last names on all our text books so that they wouldn't see that we had British last names and hid our Father. We all made it through the Japanese Occupation and the 2nd World War. We all grew up to have happy lives and great families with wonderful children and grandchildren. And we all lived into our 90's. What a blessing for all of us. But I guess it was time for you to take a well deserved rest after such a full and active life. We pray for you, Dora, Christine, Karen, Jason and your grandchildren who have our deepest condolences. Love always Sis Janet
Dearest William, Beloved little Brother, Uncle, and Grand Uncle, We are saddened that you have left us so soon, but we will always cherish all our special memories of the wonderful and also trying childhood we had surviving the war. And all the great times we had after with family gatherings with all our families together. And still keeping in constant touch after your move to San Francisco. You will be missed by all our family. Have a good rest little brother. And our sincere condolences Dora, Christine, Karen, Jason and your families. Love Winnie (Sister), Pat, Lincoln, Wayne (Niece & Nephews), Evelyn and Gregory (Grandniece & Grandnephew)
Today 3Jul2021 you would have been 92 Uncle William, I will be missing the family photos that you would always send after, updating us with how you spent your special event with all the family. And the 4th of July will never quite be the same for family and friends from this year on wards. I still have fond memories of when we were in SF a decade ago in 2011 and you were our Tour Guide driving us around everywhere showing us the sights, even if I laid very low in the back seat, grasping my seat belt and car door handle, bracing as you got on to highways, merging into traffic casually in your very own style at 82. We will always be grateful and treasure that special time you spent with Ronnie and I, and also be grateful that we all returned in one piece and alive after each outing, lol. We were also so happy to see you once again 2016 and spend time with you at home with Auntie Dora's wonderful and scrumptious home cooked meals. And Jason and Dylan taking over as tour guides to show

Community Photos

Uncle William's SF Tours Sep 2011
Our visit in Sep 2011
The young Collom Family July 1935