Dave and I were so sad to hear this week of the death of Lot Sze. He was a student at the highschool in Steinbach from 1976-1979 . Although we lived in Steinbach at the time we never met Lot. When we first moved to Hong Kong in 2003 one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Peter Dick e-mailed him to let him know some Steinbach folks were arriving in the city where Lot worked as a radio broadcaster, movie actor and documentary director. That was all Lot needed to know. He rolled out the red carpet for us. He told us people in Steinbach had been so kind to him when he lived there that befriending us was a way to pay that kindness forward.
Lot took us out for gourmet meals at top restaurants in Hong Kong and gave us a tour of the radio station where he hosted a regular program featuring his legendary movie reviews. He gave us gifts. He took us to movie premieres. Lot was a television director and had made two documentaries about Bruce Lee. He had acted in more than a hundred movies and served as the Chinese voice of characters like Robin Hood and Pinocchio in Disney films. Lot planned a weekend jaunt for us to the city of Guangzhou to see theater shows. He often talked to us about the kind and caring teachers he had in Steinbach and the many friends he made as he served as the organist for Husky hockey games and ran a judo club in town.
Lot’s parents encouraged him to move to Canada because they were fearful of the consequences of the takeover of Hong Kong by China. Lot had an uncle who was a minister in a Chinese church in Winnipeg so Lot headed there. His uncle recommended he study at Steinbach Bible College and live in the dorm but Lot chose to go to the SRSS and board with local families. He often talked fondly of Mennonite foods, like farmer’s sausage and vereneki. He remembered especially the wonderful meals made by Margaret Friesen, the mother of his good friend Kevin. It was Kevin who contacted us a few days ago to tell us Lot had passed away.
When one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Jim Peters and his wife Bonnie were coming to Hong Kong to visit we told them how much Lot missed Mennonite food so Bonnie and Jim smuggled a couple rings of farmer’s sausage into the city in their suitcase. Together Jim and Dave figured out a way to make vereneki using Dave’s Mom’s recipe and Chinese dumpling wraps. We invited Lot for supper and after tasting Dave and Jim’s vereneki Lot provided an evaluation of their efforts using a Low German phrase he had learned in Steinbach, “Schmeckt Gut.”
After we returned to Canada in 2011 Lot continued to keep in touch with us periodically but we had not heard from him in quite awhile. We knew his health was precarious already when we left Hong Kong and things were difficult for him because his entire family lived in San Francisco and so although he had a thriving career in Hong Kong he had no family support.
This week Kevin Friesen e-mailed to tell me Lot had passed away and his sister Elizabeth was looking for any memories people might have of her brother. I sent her the four Carillon articles I had written about Lot as well as my sincere condolences.
We used to call Lot our Hong Kong Santa Claus because he was so incredibly generous to us during our years in Asia. Whenever we thanked him he said he was only repaying the kindness he had received during his three years in Steinbach.
We were so sorry to hear of Lot’s death. He was a talented and well known media personality in Hong Kong but we knew him as a kind and caring friend who made us feel at home when we were far from our home and family.