Professor Emeritus Arthur Gee, who taught electrical and computer engineering for 23 years, passed away January 24. He was 81.
Born November 14, 1937, in Canton, China, he immigrated alone to the United States when he was 13 years old. Upon his arrival, he worked as a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown and started school, despite not speaking any English. It was the start of a lifelong journey in education, as Gee worked his way through high school and college and eventually graduated from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute in 1970 with a degree in electrical engineering. He went on to earn a master’s degree the following year and a Professional Engineer designation in 1975, and began his career in higher education teaching at RCA Institute and City College of New York. He married his wife, Betty, in 1963, and they moved with their three children to Chico in 1977 when he was hired as a faculty member at Chico State.
During his tenure here, Gee eagerly shared his passion for engineering and student success inside the classroom and beyond. Shortly after his hiring, he organized an industrial advisory group to bring professionals to meet with students to help ensure their success after graduation. He also chaired the industrial technology department for a time.
Each summer, Gee would work at a different firm to stay abreast of changes within the field, make contacts for donations of technology to campus, and check on how graduates were doing. He worked at Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lockheed, and Intel, where he was part of the engineering team that worked on the latest 32-bit microprocessor during its development.
Gee and his wife are remembered by many for holding an instrumental role in creating an active and engaging Asian community in Chico. On campus, he embraced that passion by advising the Asian Students Association and working with faculty and staff of Asian descent across all disciplines.
“Arthur was a kind and generous soul who played a big role in convincing me during my 1984 job interview to call Chico State home,” said Kenny Chan, a professor emeritus from the College of Business. “He was extremely supportive in involving me, and other new Asian faculty members as well, in University and community activities, and mentoring us through the tenure process. We admired his tenacity, can-do attitude, and caring nature. I will miss my role model and ‘older brother.’”
Civil engineering professor emeritus Maurice Mow noted Gee’s many contributions to the Asian community in Chico include the orchestration of an annual fall function and Lunar New Year celebration each spring, in which he will be honored next month. He was also committed to connecting individuals on campus who were of Asian descent.
“He was one of the most bubbly personalities and a very positive person,” Mow said. “He was very engaging, and if he saw someone Asian who he had not seen before, he would go introduce himself and make a connection.”
After his retirement in 2000, Gee enjoyed golf, traveling around the world, and spoiling his grandchildren. In 2014, he moved with Betty to San Juan Capistrano. He is survived by his sons Clinton and Darrin Gee, daughter Evette Gee, their spouses, and numerous grandchildren.
A celebration of life will take place this summer in Laguna Hills. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his name to the Arthur and Betty Gee Community Endowment Fund through the North Valley Community Foundation.