Kieran Wong – Parks commissioner

Kieran Wong at home. Dan Watson/The Signal

Kieran Wong, appointed to the City of Santa Clarita Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission in 2016, has been an active member of the Santa Clarita Valley since he relocated here in 2000. He has served as president of the SCV Jaycees, is the founder of the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund and a recipient of the Outstanding Young Californian Award in 2003.

He works as a financial professional at Infinity Wealth Management in Valencia.

Born in Berkeley

Wong, was born in Berkeley to a Chinese-Canadian father and a mother born of Swiss immigrants. He is the seventh of eight children, five boys and three girls.

His father, born in Vancouver, Canada to Chinese immigrants, was drafted into the Canadian army at age 20 during World War II. He was assigned, with other Chinese-Canadians soldiers, to what was considered a “suicide mission” behind enemy Japanese lines.

“My father survived the war and immigrated to the Bay Area in the United States and became a U.S. citizen,” said Wong. “Two of his sisters had immigrated to the Oakland shipyards during the war to work as ‘Rosie the Riveters.’”

Wong’s mother was born in Pasadena. Then, in December of 1939, her parents decided to visit Switzerland for the holidays.

“Why anyone would go to Switzerland in December of 1939 on a boat, I don’t know, but they did,” said Wong. “I have a copy of the ship’s menu of the Christmas dinner they served.”

As WWII, which had begun only months before their trip, intensified, the young family found themselves stuck in Switzerland with no way to return.

“My mom was raised in Switzerland during WWII,” said Wong. “After the war, in 1947, they immigrated back to the United States. They ended up in Berkeley, living next door to my father.”

Accomplished parents

After Wong’s parents were married, they both quit college. His father found work as a house painter.

“In 1963, when my youngest sister was born, my father got a job as a painter at the University of California, Berkeley where he spent the next 30 years running the painting crews,” Wong said.

In the midst of raising eight children, Wong’s mother returned to college and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education.

“She also obtained a teaching credential,” said Wong. “She started teaching grade school. Then, while still raising children, she got her doctorate.”

Wong’s mother finished her teaching career in East Oakland schools by teaching children with learning disabilities.

“I don’t know how my parents did it while raising eight children,” Wong said. “I was there, I lived it, but I don’t know how.”

Wong said that in the midst of earning her doctorate, and raising a family, his mother decided to learn the art of making stained glass.

“Now the entire house is full of stained glass,” he said. “There isn’t one piece of plain glass. It’s wonderful, it’s like a cathedral.”

His father died three years ago at age 94, but his mother, (who turns 90 in the fall), is still active and in good health. She still lives in the same house the couple purchased in Berkeley in 1959.

“My father was an amazing and dedicated man to his family and his community. Everybody loved him,” said Wong.

Wong praised his parents for their sacrifices and the values they instilled in their children.

“Their primary priorities were to give us, my siblings and I, a safe home, high quality meals and an education,” he said. “They were of the generation that sacrificed so their children could have a better life than they had. To this day I have seven siblings who are wonderful, productive, generous human beings.”

Wong lost his younger sister last year to cancer.

Eagle Scout

Wong earned the rank of Eagle Scout shortly before his 14th birthday, making him (at that time) one of the youngest Eagle Scouts recognized by the Boy Scouts of America.

“When I was 11, my brother and I joined the Boy Scouts and I decided I wanted to become an Eagle Scout,” Wong said. “In a little over 2 ½ years, I earned my Eagle Scout award. I went at it with an intensity that I don’t know where it came from.” Wong also earned four Eagle palms.

Once he becomes an Eagle, a Scout can earn one Eagle palm for every five extra merit badges he earns.

“I had a whole litany of merit badges and to this day my learning experiences through those merit badges, and Scouting in general have directed me and instructed me in life,” he said. “I am a big supporter of scouting. It teaches life skills, leadership, teamwork and learning how to grow to be an adult.”

Moving to the SCV

Wong attended UC Berkeley and studied architecture. He earned his bachelor’s degree in interior architecture design at the California College of Arts.

Wong was working in that field when he moved to Los Angeles in 1995.

In 2000, a friend suggested to Wong that he move to Santa Clarita.

Wong met Brenda Mehling when they both attended their first SCV Jaycees meeting. They began dating shortly after they met.

Mehling, a breast cancer survivor, was in remission until 2002.

“Things were going well then she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, the cancer had spread throughout her body and into her bones,” he said.

Wong enlisted the aid of other Jaycees to begin a fund to help Mehling with medical expenses.

“She was young, only 30, and we wanted to support her,” he said. “But in typical Brenda fashion she said, ‘I appreciate the support, but I would really like to support others who are in the same situation I am.’ We started the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund in 2002.”

Brenda Mehling

In 2003, Mehling’s health deteriorated rapidly. The cancer spread to her brain. She lost the use of her legs and her eyesight.

“I decided I had waited long enough,” Wong said. He proposed to Mehling late in 2003.

Mehling was soon hospitalized at Cedars Sinai Hospital in West Los Angeles. Then, one morning in January 2004, Mehling suffered such an intense pain event she felt she was dying. She called her family and said her goodbyes. The hospital managed to sedate her to ease her suffering.

“While she was sleeping, I thought, ‘Maybe we should just get married today.’ I got her best friends together, we got a pastor, a notary, some flowers, cake and a gown of sorts and at about 2 p.m. we woke her up,” said Wong. “She smiled and said, ‘I am getting married today.’ We were married bedside. Then, three weeks later, she passed.”

Mehling never left the hospital after her wedding.

Father of four

In 2005, Wong remarried. His wife, Stacey, and Wong have four daughters, Kylie, 10; Isla, 8; Teah, 5; and Reece, 1. They live in Valencia.

“Santa Clarita is truly is a great place to raise a family,” he said.

Wong has participated in numerous triathlons over the years and he, and his family, live an active, sporty lifestyle.

Wong’s wife, Stacey, played on the University of California, Los Angeles championship volleyball team in college. Her brother was a professional beach volleyball player.

Now the couple’s daughters are taking up the sport.

Kieran Wong, left, talks to City of Santa Clarita Groundskeeper, Nick Elliott on the softball diamond at Chesebrough Park in Santa Clarita. Dan Watson/The Signal

Parks commission

In 2016, Wong was appointed to the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission after he was nominated by City Councilman Cameron Smyth.

“Being a Boy Scout, an avid cyclist, mountain biker and hiker, I love the direction and leadership from the City of Santa Clarita that has produced such wonderful amenities for the residents,” Wong said. “There are 34 parks, miles and miles of off-road paseos and 11,000 acres of open space preserved by the city. This is why I wanted to be part of the parks commission, to continue to improve these amenities throughout the community.”

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