TAIPEI — Chang Yung-fa (張榮發), founder of the Evergreen Group, died at the age of 88 Wednesday.
“All Evergreen Group members felt distressed and reluctant to part with him,” the conglomerate said in a statement.
He leaves behind his wife and five children.
Reports said Chang was admitted to National Taiwan University suffering from cardiopulmonary failure in late December and was put on life support.
Chang was born into a poor family in Su’ao, Yilan County on Oct. 6, 1927, and his family moved to Keelung in 1934.
A hardworking man, he worked his way up to became a ship’s captain and founded Evergreen Marine Corp. in 1968, with just one old vessel.
He later expanded his operations to the aviation sector by setting up EVA Airways, which is now Taiwan’s second-largest airline.
He believed in the social responsibility of an enterprise and would encourage students from underpriviledged families to work at sea and get out of poverty.
“The purpose of living is to do good deeds,” he once said, adding that if an entrepreneur makes money, he or she must have gratitude in their heart and not forget to do good and donate in due time.
When the Evergreen Group became the largest container firm in 1985, he also set up the Chang Jung-fa Foundation that year to promote charity work, including medical assistance, publication of the “Morality Monthly” for free distribution, setting up the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra and the Evergreen Marine museum.
Some of his anecdotes are well-known, including his iron will to quit smoking right away.
Chang was known to smoke at least two packs of cigarettes per day for over two decades.
But one summer in the 1970s when he was having a regular physical checkup at a hospital in Tokyo, he lit up a cigarette casually, to be met with the cold words from the hospital superintendent that “a civilized man does not smoke.”
The words were shocking to him for he did not want to be seen as a “barbarian.”
He was strict to himself and also asked his employees to adhere to a dress code, with female employees required to wear skirts while males had to dress in suits.
He was a devoted follower of the religion I-kuan Tao (一貫道), and was a vegetarian for many years. He preferred a simple diet and would not waste food.
He bought a farm in Sanxia many years ago to grow organic vegetables that were sold cheaply to his employees.
Many political and business leaders have extended their condolences to Chang’s family.
Likely to Leave Wealth to Charity