Inside the Lam Brothers Grocery Store that Jack Lam ran on D'Antignac Street in Augusta for more than 50 years hung a sign that read, "Old-Fashioned Butcher Shop."
Mr. Lam was very proud of that sign, not just because he hand-painted it, but because, in many ways, the words symbolized his success in leaving his native China and establishing a good life for his family in America.
Mr. Lam, 85, died Saturday, but his family said they know he will be remembered as a kind, honest man who worked hard to satisfy his customers with the best cuts of meat in town.
Mr. Lam opened the store with his father and brother shortly after they moved to America in 1941. After his father and brother moved on to other pursuits, Mr. Lam managed the store on his own. At times he had to work 24-hour days to keep things running smoothly.
Mr. Lam also worked to help Chinese people become American citizens and was given an award from the Daughters of the American Revolution for his efforts in 1972.
"He was always telling us to strive harder, to work harder. He and my mom never took vacations, and they put all four children through college and master's programs," his daughter, Virginia Lam, said.
Mr. Lam did treat himself to one thing, though: big cars.
After the birth of his son, Dana Lam, Mr. Lam celebrated by buying a 1958 Buick Limited. He kept the car in top condition, only using it on Sundays for family outings. Forty years later, he sold it and bought another big car, a Cadillac.
"I remember the dealer was trying to explain to him all the accessories and buttons, and he was already driving off the lot," Dana Lam said.
Mr. Lam's children also remember his humorous efforts to show them how to drive. When he was teaching Virginia, he told her the first thing she needed to learn was how to make a U-turn, she said.
"I didn't learn how to make a straight left or right turn until the day before the test," she said with a laugh. "He always said honest people don't joke, but he brought things in from an angle so unexpected that it was charming."
Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at the First Baptist Church of Augusta.
Reach Lindsay Wilkes-Edrington at (706) 823-3332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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