Regina Lim Lee was born on Aug. 21, 1961. Her father, Albert Chin Lee, an immigrant from China’s Guangdong province, served within the US Military and later introduced over his partner, Susie, upon finishing his service. That they had 4 youngsters, with Regina being the youngest.
Raymond, the second oldest, recalled a blue-collar upbringing. The household settled within the Seattle space, and the youngsters went to Franklin Excessive Faculty, from which Regina graduated in 1979. Round that point, her dad and mom opened New Gallery Backyard Restaurant, a gathering spot for Asian American teenagers that served burgers and steaks and hosted native musicians. The youngsters labored there whereas attending school.
Whereas two of her elder siblings attended the College of Washington, Regina went to beautician faculty, however by no means completed. As a substitute, she labored as a journey agent and finally joined Costco Journey, which the wholesaler began in 2000. She advised her household it was a superb, steady job, permitting her to offer for her mom, who was by then widowed, and with whom she and her older sister, Willa, lived in Everett, Washington.
“Regina was a fun-loving particular person, who preferred to joke round, whereas Willa was the intense center little one,” Raymond recalled. “Each took care of my mother, and there was nothing for her to fret about.”
At Costco Journey, Regina was an establishment. Having labored there for 20 years, she interacted at one level with nearly everybody within the workplace, whether or not it was sharing a vanpool or leaving them shock sweets whereas they have been away. Whereas she hardly ever supplied particulars about her private life, she cherished to arrange workplace potlucks and have a good time colleagues’ birthdays to convey staff out of their cubicles.
On her final day at work, nonetheless, coworkers remembered Regina’s gentle voice and quiet laughing have been changed by a cough that bought extra noticeable all through the day. Because the calls rolled in from apprehensive vacationers, Costco stored the brokers crowded in desk pods the place working areas have been lower than 6 ft aside. Some confirmed early signs of COVID-19 — together with fatigue and cough — however nonetheless got here in, hoping to not use trip days to take day without work.
It took a full 24 hours for Costco to inform Regina’s colleagues of how she died, main the corporate to shut the journey workplace for cleansing the day after her dying. By the tip of the week, they have been again at their desks.
“I used to be so mortified that they didn’t shut the workplace when my good friend died,” stated the nameless journey worker, who has been with the corporate for greater than a decade. “Individuals stored coming again after that, and it was simply so flawed!”
Raymond didn’t discover out Regina had been sick till Willa advised him that she had instantly died. Regina had collapsed at residence, and though paramedics tried CPR on her, they might revive her. Because the particular person whom his sisters referred to as when one thing wanted to be repaired on the home, Raymond felt helpless when he was advised that the home was below quarantine and that he couldn’t go to.
“I at all times felt like a superhero for the household,” he stated. “However that is the one time you may’t assist the household out in any respect.”
Willa, a coaching director at a biomedical firm, developed a 101-degree fever the morning Regina died and was admitted to an intensive care unit seven days later. Two days after Willa arrived on the hospital, her mom, Susie, didn’t reply the door throughout a wellness verify, main paramedics to interrupt in and discover her collapsed on the bottom.
Susie died on March 27, formally of a staph an infection, although a health care provider advised Raymond that coronavirus checks weren’t as much as commonplace and that she had additionally possible contracted the illness. Willa died on March 29, spending her final moments on a ventilator.
Regina and Willa are survived by their brothers, William and Raymond Lee. Susie is survived by her sons William and Raymond, sister Margaret, and brothers Albert, David, Edwin, and James.
This 12 months, there will probably be no celebrations for Chinese language New Yr, when the Lee household would historically collect at Regina and Willa’s Everett residence. Raymond advised BuzzFeed Information in December that he’s social-distancing from his older brother, William, and taking no matter precautions are wanted.
“That is going to be a really lonely 12 months,” he stated.