Community tribute for Sam Kwok from Fresh Fruit Juice Paradise

 

To commemorate the sad demise of Sam Kwok, the owner of DB’s Fresh Fruit Juice Paradise, Sam Agars shares an outpouring of love from grieving residents.

 

Sam Kwok was one of those people who touched everyone he met and left people feeling better about themselves after every encounter. The outpouring of emotion from the Discovery Bay community since Sam passed away last month is testament to that. Sam was hardworking and genuine, and proud to benefit the DB community through his store, Fresh Fruit Juice Paradise.

The store, which Sam opened 18 years ago, quickly became a local institution, with Sam greeting DBers as they passed through, always ready for a chat and a laugh.

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Sam, who was 58 and lived in Peng Chau, is survived by his ex-wife and two sons. His passing has left a huge hole in the DB community. Residents left bunches of flowers and notes in their dozens at the front of Fresh Fruit Juice Paradise in the days following his death. Sam’s family left a note thanking the community for their understanding and support.

DBers held a candlelight vigil a week after Sam’s death to pay their respects, with the numbers attending speaking volumes of the impact Sam had on this community. The notion of dropping into Sam’s for a juice was a fixture in so many people’s lives.

Residents’ heartfelt response

Nicolas Tse of The Optical House has been working next door to Sam for the past five years and he speaks of his kind heart and boundless generosity. “We would say hi to each other every day,” Nicolas says. “If there was fruit not collected by the customers, he would give it to us. He always had children running into his shop. He would allow them to play and he never got angry.”

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Former DB resident Hedwig Henneman, who is now living in Holland, wrote a heartfelt email to Around DB after hearing about Sam’s death, recalling her daily visits to Fresh Fruit Juice Paradise and the joy Sam brought to her life.

“Sam made my elixir, the apple-carrot juice,” Hedwig says. “I loved him from day one. He managed to give me a good feeling. No matter in which state I came in.”

Hedwig speaks of a letter Sam wrote to her in Chinese, when she was going through a difficult time some years ago. “Learn to let go and forgive those who hurt you,” Sam wrote. “You will live happily ever after.”

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A long-time friend of Sam’s, who prefers not to be named, has a tribute to Sam, giving an insight into just why he was so beloved by the DB community. “This kind man was a friend to me, supporting me and many more in our little community,” she says. “He looked after countless families with his gentle and caring nature. One of his beliefs in life was the importance of being authentic with people, saying what needs to be said, because it’s good for the relationship and for the soul. I always admired how he never judged or forced his opinions on anyone, but offered valuable and truthful advice that I will surely miss.”

DBer Sandra Roe developed a strong bond with Sam after she was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008, visiting his store for a carrot juice each day during chemotherapy. “I would always have Sam make me a carrot juice each day when I was out of the hospital,” Sandra says. “The beta-carotene in the carrot juice helps take the coating off the cancer cells so your immune system can find them. Sam used seven carrots in one large drink. That’s a lot of carrots.

“I always loved to see his smile and he always asked me if I was OK,” Sandra continues. “I would take his hand and tell him that he made his juice with love. He would lift up his counter and come and give me a hug. This is something I will treasure forever. You could see he loved his customers.”

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Online outpourings

The enormity of feeling felt by Sam’s passing translated to social media, with the Around DB Facebook post announcing Sam’s passing reaching almost 40,000 people. Those who knew Sam posted messages of love and support, describing him as honest, hardworking, genuine, kind and patient, among many other things.

“Sam was a fantastic man and certainly touched my life. My daughter was one of the children that loved going to his shop and saying hello to him. He will be missed by our community” – Rey Espineli.

“Sam was pure of heart and was an honest, hardworking soul dearly respected by all in DB. Rest with the angels” – Michael McGuire.

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“My family will miss Sam very much – from babies my girls have loved going to his shop. In their prams they would stare at the fish tank and make drawings for his walls, and now years on they are old enough to run from school and order their own juice. We will miss his great smile and warm heart” – Natasha Fox.

“What an amazing man and an asset to the DB community. My children will miss him the most. He always was so kind and patient with them... always remembered them, their favourite smoothie and what allergies they had. My heart breaks for his family, I hope they realise the immense impact he had on our community” – Erika Wrona Dubinsky.

“Sam was the sweetest man and always made time for my daughter when we went in. She loved going to see him, the smoothies were a bonus” – Meaghan Williams.

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“Since I came to DB in 2001, Sam always had a smile for me. He and his wonderful shop, this plaza institution, will be missed and remembered” – Silke Preussker.

“So sad, I loved getting juice from him. It was one of the many things which made DB so unique and a wonderful place to live” – Lauren Saunders.

“Sam, thank you for all the fun, smiles and kind words over the years. People like you are the essence of community. Rest in peace, dear man” – Colette Jones.

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Photos by Baljit Gidwani - www.evoqueportraits.com

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