2019 SCF Grand Marshal Dr. Kai-Fu Chow

Retired last year, 2019 Swamp Cabbage Festival Parades Grand Marshal Dr. Kai-Fu Chow began earning the respect and admiration of LaBelle residents when he first arrived here in 1981.

He has spent decades caring for the hurts and maladies of people with varied backgrounds. Many local families have histories of hunting, fishing and eking out a living in the northern Everglades; others came from various walks of life later from near and far. All have melded into a unique and close community.

This beloved healer came from a very different place, himself. Born in a small town in China, he arrived in Miami in 1966 with his family when he was just 15. Growing up he was strongly influenced by the hard work he shared in the family grocery store, then restaurant. Before and after school he, his brothers and sister helped shoulder the responsibilities of building a life from the ground up in an unfamiliar country. With so much work to do, he appreciated the opportunities provided by his adopted country, especially in public education. He earned a scholarship from the University of Miami and then from the National Health Service Corps, which provides education for medical personnel to work in medically underserved areas of the country.

The thanks and admiration of this community is evidence that he made excellent use of the chance.

He made a commitment to provide medical services to the people of LaBelle and has honored that pact for 36 years – a bargain he feels is as much a blessing for him as for his patients. He is aware of the fact that, here in LaBelle, his patients appreciated his work and his compassion for them. In a larger community, he said, he could not have developed the personal relationships he so highly values.

Today, after a lifetime of tending to the community’s health, he remains grateful for the opportunities this country has afforded him and hopes others, especially young people, recognize the importance of public service.

He said he was very surprised at his selection for Grand Marshal, an honor that speaks of the community’s respect and appreciation. As a rule, he said, doctors don’t have a lot of time to devote to public service, but he supposed that a doctor’s life is a life of commitment in itself.

“I have been honored to serve this community all this time,” he said.

Dr. Chow’s life has been crowned with success in his chosen field and that success has its roots in disparate soils: his family’s work ethic and nurturing; an educational system that responded to society’s needs; his own dedication to healing; and even in the good will of his patients.

Success may be defined in various ways. The 2019 Grand Marshal said that a quote from Michelle Obama eloquently expresses his feelings on the subject: “Success,” she said, “isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

By that yardstick, Dr. Chow is a very successful man, indeed.

The community is proud to recognize this hard working, unassuming healer as the Grand Marshall of the 2019 Swamp Cabbage Festival.

Patty Brant, can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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