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70th Anniversary of Ho Kom-tong's Passing: Kom Tong Hall and the Funeral of Ho Kom-tong

Kom Tong Hall, the predecessor of the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum, belonged to the family of 20th century Hong Kong tycoon Ho Kom-tong. The mansion was completed in 1914. Ho Kom-tong lived in sai uk (small house) on Conduit Road most of the time, but family gatherings, weddings and funerals were usually held in Kom Tong Hall. Since Ho enjoyed company, the French parlour was used only for parties. Every year at Lunar New Year and Christmas, he decorated the mansion and hosted family banquets there.

Ho Kom-tong passed away in Kom Tong Hall on 14 January 1950, at the age of 83. During his life, he was devoted to elevating the social status of Chinese people in Hong Kong. His funeral reflected how he was revered by society.

On 20 January, Ho Kom-tong's funeral was held in the ceremonial room of Kom Tong Hall (now the Reading Room). After the ceremony, Ho's coffin was carried in the hearse. Led by a British army band, the funeral procession set off from Lower Castle Road and travelled along Seymour Road, Bonham Road and Pok Fu Lam Road before arriving at University Hall in The University of Hong Kong, where Ho's relatives and friends, as well as members of the public, bid him a final farewell. Paying their respects were a number of government officials and prominent individuals, including C. J. R. Dawson, on behalf of the Governor of Hong Kong Sir Alexander Grantham, Ronald Todd, Secretary for Chinese Affairs, Duncan MacIntosh, Commissioner of Police, Sir Robert Ho Tung, Ho's elder brother, and Sir Shouson Chow, along with many people who had benefited from Ho's altruism.

Ho Kom-tong was a well-known philanthropist. His family declined funeral scrolls and wreaths, and asked relatives and friends to donate money in support of charitable causes instead. The HK$11,200 that was collected was donated to organisations such as Queen's College Memorial Hall, Tung Wah Hospital and the St. John Ambulance Brigade.

Ho Kom-tong was buried in Chiu Yuen Cemetery on Mount Davis. Before 1897, there was no cemetery for the Eurasian community in Hong Kong, so Ho and Sir Robert Ho Tung acquired a site on Mount Davis from the Hong Kong government for the construction of Chiu Yuen Cemetery. The family's burial ground, Ho Chong, is located inside the cemetery.

Ho Kom-tong (1866-1950). Ho Kom-tong, Sir Robert Ho Tung (1862-1956) and Ho Fook (1863-1926) were half-brothers. Ho Kom-tong was born in the same year as Dr Sun Yat-sen, and also attended Government Central School. He subsequently worked as a comprador in Jardine, Matheson & Co. Ltd.

On the day of the funeral, pallbearers carry the coffin of Ho Kom-tong out of the main entrance of Kom Tong Hall to the hearse.

Nurses of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the hearse move along Seymour Road. In 1915, Ho Kom-tong initiated the founding of the St. John Ambulance Brigade in Hong Kong. With funds donated by Ho, the Brigade was established in the following year.

Members of the Ho family, dressed in black, escort Ho Kom-tong's coffin to The University of Hong Kong. In 1917, Ho made a donation to The University of Hong Kong's School of Tropical Medicine and Pathology for training and the construction of a teaching block.

Family, friends and other members of the public bid a final farewell to Ho Kom-tong as the hearse is parked outside The University of Hong Kong.

The main entrance gateway of Ho Chong features an architectural style similar to the main entrance of Kom Tong Hall. A firm believer of feng shui, Ho Kom-tong chose to build the family burial ground on the other side of the cemetery.