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‘Eddie’ Ngan Ling Ng, a Hong Kong-born transplant who achieved the ‘American dream’ as a systems engineer for a federal agency, dies

Eddie Ngan Ling Ng worked for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Eddie Ngan Ling Ng worked for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Eddie Ng liked his routines. In addition to leaving his home in Timonium at 4:30 a.m. every weekday to get to his contracting job with the information technology team for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), he took out the trash on Mondays, vacuumed the house on Wednesdays, organized the recycling on Thursdays and went grocery shopping on Saturdays.

“None of us ever did the grocery shopping because it was all him,” said his daughter, Alexandra Ng. “And he got everything we needed. He was a very attentive father, and he knew exactly what our needs were.”

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Mr. Ng, a systems engineer for the OCC, an independent branch of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, died Sept. 1 of a heart attack at his home. He would have turned 63 in October.

“The one word that I would use to describe him with regard to the job is integrity,” said David Allard, Mr. Ng’s supervisor at the OCC, who knew Mr. Ng since they began working there together as contractors in 2008. “He had integrity, and because you could trust him, he was able to take on increasingly more responsibilities for the team.”

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Born in Hong Kong, Mr. Ng, whose formal name is Ng Ngan Ling (pronounced Eng Nang Ling), was the youngest of seven children raised by Ng Yuk Sun, a ranking officer in the Army, and Yeung Mei Chun, a street vendor. The family struggled to make ends meet.

“He was like, ‘You guys are very fortunate. I had to grow up so poor,’ ” said Ms. Ng, a senior majoring in French language and literature and government and politics at the University of Maryland, College Park. “He talked about growing up in the heat. He didn’t have running water. It was very dirty. They had to travel far to get water. But my dad was proud that he was able to rise out of poverty, create a new life, and see his children succeed in better circumstances than he had growing up.”

At the age of 16, Mr. Ng was offered a chance to further his education at the YMCA International College, a language school in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. After graduation, he enrolled at the University of Maryland and studied civil engineering there for three years.

He returned to Hong Kong to propose marriage to a girl he knew. But she had already begun dating someone else, and his application for a student visa to return to the United States was denied. It was a roadblock, but not a dead end, according to his wife, the former “Fanny” Pui Chun Hui.

“He never liked to fail,” said Mrs. Ng, who met her future husband during a party at a disco in 1984. “He thought, ‘OK, you want to defeat me? I will overcome that.’ That was just his personality.”

After working as a civil engineer for a Japanese construction firm in Hong Kong and as a tour guide, Mr. Ng jumped on an opportunity in 1987 to return to the United States and secure a green card. He flew back, married his wife on May 18, 1988, and brought her with him to a relative’s house in Baltimore.

“We had no money or anything,” Mrs. Ng said. “We just came here and started from scratch. All we had was our suitcases.”

Mr. Ng found jobs as a waiter at a number of Chinese restaurants, but was not satisfied until he became an operation manager for a furniture company in Columbia. In 1993, the couple welcomed their first child, Aaron, and their daughter, Alexandra, six years later.

As the furniture company appeared to struggle to earn a profit, Mr. Ng left the company and returned to waiting tables so that his wife could pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Baltimore, which she earned in 2001.

Mrs. Ng encouraged her husband to go to school so that he could apply for a higher-paying job. Mr. Ng attended evening classes at Towson University and graduated cum laude in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems.

After working in the IT departments for a nonprofit organization and a Maryland State Police branch in Pikesville, Mr. Ng began working with Mr. Allard at the OCC. Mr. Allard, who commuted from Owings Mills at the time, said he and Mr. Ng frequently talked about the long-distance travel to the office, but Mr. Ng never complained.

“He enjoyed the team, and he enjoyed the work, and that’s why he did it. He enjoyed where he was,” Mr. Allard said. “The thought is when you spend that much time in a location, you want to be doing something that you find meaning, something that you enjoy, and I think that was true of Eddie.”

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Mr. Allard said Mr. Ng’s favorite reply to colleagues who asked him how he was doing was, “I don’t know. You tell me.”

“That was Eddie’s trademark response,” Mr. Allard said with a laugh. “And in fact, we all started picking it up.”

Mr. Ng enjoyed exercising with his wife and daughter, watching Orioles and Ravens games with his son, making a dinner of French-style duck with vegetables, and listening to music from artists such as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Ed Sheeran.

But what fulfilled him most was taking care of his family, his daughter said.

“I was always scared of spiders and bugs, and I would be like, ‘Dad, there’s a bug here!’ and he would come immediately and pick it up,” Ms. Ng said. “If I said, ‘Oh my gosh, my room is dirty,’ he would come and vacuum it. If I said, ‘I’m out of contact lens solution,’ he would say, ‘OK, I’m going to get it.’ ”

Mrs. Ng said she implored her husband to show his romantic side with flowers or other gifts. But his common retort was, “Flowers don’t mean anything. I love you. So I don’t need to give you flowers.”

“We went into a lot of arguments about that, but he did everything for us,” she said. “If he knew that I liked a type of ice cream, he would go to look for it and then surprise me. … He was truly a good husband and a good father. He supported me really well.”

Mr. Ng was just as devoted to his friends. Albert Lee, who knew Mr. Ng from their days as waiters at the Bamboo House at the Inner Harbor, recalled Mr. Ng wearing his pajamas and giving him a lift to the mechanic to retrieve his car.

“As a friend, any help that he could give to me, he would provide without any hesitation,” said Mr. Lee, who asked Mr. Ng to be his best man when he married in 1992. “He was always there for me and my family besides his own. … We were almost like brothers as opposed to being close friends.”

After a funeral at the Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home in Baltimore on Tuesday, Mr. Ng was buried at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Cockeysville.

In addition to his daughter and wife, Mr. Ng is survived by his son, Aaron Ng of Washington, D.C.; two sisters, “Winnie” Lai Yu Ng of New York and “Lily” Lai Fong Chan of Portland, Oregon; and two brothers, “Philip” Chung Ling Ng and “Peter” Pak Ling Ng, both of Baltimore.

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