Dr. Yeow's Story
- Dr. Yeow Tan passed away on March 16, 2017, in Bangor, at the age of 69, after a 2-year struggle with cancer. Yeow was a remarkable woman in many ways. She was not only a woman of science and music, but also a sister of steadfast faith. Yeow grew up in a small city, like Bangor, in Malaysia. Her family moved to the larger city of Penang, where she completed her secondary education. As a young woman, she faced a choice regarding her future: to become a professional pianist or to study medicine. She chose to study medicine and was awarded a Colombo Plan Scholarship, a highly competitive and prestigious scholarship awarded to students in less developed countries for study in universities in richer Commonwealth countries. She came to Canada to complete her medical studies and training with the understanding that she would return to Malaysia to practice for two years once she received her degree.
In 1973 she graduated with honors and received her medical degree from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, and returned to Malaysia to honor her service commitment. It was a commitment which turned out to involve virtually running a 200 bed hospital! This was quite a challenge for a young woman in her early twenties, but a challenge tailor-made for Yeow.
After completing her service in Malaysia, Yeow returned to North America and pursued advanced studies in pediatrics and pediatric allergies at War Memorial Children's Hospital and Hospital For Sick Children in Ontario, Canada. She then moved to Dexter, Maine, to begin her practice at Mayo Regional Hospital. After seeing her work with children in the Dexter area, Dr. Charles McElvoy encouraged her to come to Bangor and establish her pediatric practice at Eastern Maine Medical Center. She did so in 1982. She was one of a relatively small number of women physicians at that time. She was known as a dedicated and caring physician and she took great joy from seeing her young patients become productive adults who remember her fondly. She was an active, valued member of the Eastern Maine Medical Center staff. At the end of her career she specialized in adult and pediatric allergies, helping many, including desensitizing patients who had serious bee sting allergies. She gave many valuable lectures on allergies.
Yeow had a genuine interest in the welfare and needs of other people. She was not intrusive and did not judge others which encouraged her friends to open up to her and express their views freely. She was comfortable to be with.
Although she was so far away from her great-nieces in Australia, she made every effort to keep in touch through regular phone calls and Skype. Even though young, the great-nieces still cherish their relationships with her and treasure their memories of her.
As a doctor she was approachable regardless how busy she might be. She did not overawe her patients but rather made every effort to explain so that they could understand. She used to say, "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care." In fact many of her patients became her good friends. It was once written of her, that "she was silent when words would hurt and patient when others were curt. She was deaf to the scandals that flowed, but was thoughtful of others' woes. She was prompt when duty called and remained courageous when misfortune fell."
Yeow was known for having many devoted friends, for having a deep engagement with music, for her love of travel and for her sense of humor. Yeow regularly traveled all over the world to maintain contact with her friends and family. She hosted memorable parties at her summer camp. She was a regular at concerts and music events throughout eastern Maine, and she played piano for her beloved church. Anyone who knew Yeow recalls spending a lot of time laughing as she exchanged stories and remembrances. Her humor and enthusiasm will be greatly missed by all.
Yeow was also devoted to the encouragement of music, education and the arts in the greater Bangor area. She established a scholarship fund at EMMC and was a faithful supporter of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and the Arcady Music Society.
However, even more important to Yeow than her work and her music, was her love for her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One might wonder if this accomplished woman of science might find her work somehow in conflict with her faith. Yeow would undoubtedly set you straight. In the ailments and failings of the human body, Yeow saw the reality of the perfection of God's design - a perfection not to be known in this life but to be experienced by believers forever in the life to come. This hope of Yeow's life is now her reality as she is, now and forever, in the presence of the Savior she faithfully served while among us.
Yeow grew up in a Christian home and professed faith at an early age. She was an active member of Pilgrim Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Bangor where she was a dear friend and encourager to so many. The children at Pilgrim and Yeow had a mutual enjoyment of one another. During her illness the children regularly prayed for her and were delighted when she stopped by during Sunday School. She participated in the music ministry, playing the piano on a regular basis for many years.
Yeow had so many close friends who were such an important part of her life that it would be impossible to mention them all. However, Emily Bean, Dr. John Kaiser and Martha Hsu were especially close to her along with her beloved congregation of Pilgrim Church.
Yeow is survived by her brother, Har Sheng and his family in Australia, plus many family members in Malaysia.
A memorial service is scheduled for June 3, 2017, at 11 a.m. at Pilgrim Church, 375 Mt. Hope Ave., Bangor. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the EMHS Foundation Yeow Tan, MD Education and Lecture Series, P.O. Box 931, Bangor ME 04402-0931 (please include Fund ID #02051504 on the memo line) or to the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, P.O. Box 1441, Bangor, ME 04402-1441.
Published on  March 25, 2017