Friends and family of Ventnor restaurateur Ming Zhen Chen gathered at the Greenidge Funeral Home in Atlantic City on Thursday for the first of two viewings before his burial Friday.
Chen, 48, of Egg Harbor Township, died June 30 when his boat capsized off of Brigantine during the derecho storm. Chen, along with two boys killed in Salem County’s Parvin State Park by a falling tree, was the only known fatalities in South Jersey tied to the powerful storm.
Chen owned two restaurants in Ventnor, Tsui’s Garden on Ventnor Avenue and Tsui’s Garden II in the Wellington Avenue shopping center in Ventnor Heights.
On Thursday, several women in tears supported each other as they walked toward the funeral home.
“He was a good person and a good friend,” said Jimmy Cheng, of Atlantic City, who said he was Chen’s “fishing buddy.” Cheng said he was designated as a spokesman for Chen’s family, who did not wish to speak publicly.
Cheng, who said Chen had been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years, said that they would go fishing with others “sometimes three times a week, depending on the weather.”
The June 30 storm, he said, “was unexpected. No one anticipated it. Everyone regrets that the storm took his life.”
Two other passengers of the boat were able to swim ashore after the boat capsized. A Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew located Chen, who was pulled unconscious from the water before later being pronounced dead.
“Everyone loved him,” Cheng said, “and thought he was a good person.”
A second viewing is scheduled for 9 to 11 a.m. Friday at the funeral home at 301 Absecon Boulevard. Burial is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at Seaside Cemetery, 559 Route 9, Palermo, Upper Township.
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