In Memoriam: Raymond Kao, A Dedicated Member of the ICSB Family
May 13, 2019
Raymond Wen-Yuan Kao (b. 11th October 1924) was a noted author and Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies (later, Professor Emeritus at Ryerson University). Born into a poverty-stricken family in rural China, he lost his father at an early age and was a refugee during the Second World War. After many adventures, and with only a 7th grade formal education, he was admitted to Shanghai University achieving a Bachelor’s Degree, followed by a Master’s Degree in Business at the University of Toronto. Upon graduation, he worked a variety of jobs in Canada, including as a buyer at Simpson’s department store, an accountant at Canadian General Electric, and as an independent businessman. His natural talent as a teacher and mentor lead him to begin his academic career at the then Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (later University). During a sabbatical at the University of Manchester he earned a second Master’s Degree. After retiring from Ryerson, he held academic posts at the University of Toronto, Brock University, Nanyang Technical University in Singapore, and McMaster University. He retained a keen interest in China and its future throughout his career. Author of many books, he was the founding editor of the Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, was an International Council for Small Business Wilford L. Whyte fellow, the first Tasman Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and past president of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) and of ICSB-Canada. He was the recipient of many academic rewards for his research and writings. An advisor to the Ontario and Canadian governments, he was also a much-admired academic speaker. In his personal life, he loved debating politics, traveling, nature, gardening and long walks. He was an avid swimmer, a big fan of Star Trek, enjoyed both classical music and Chinese opera, and was a good (though occasionally erratic) cook and gourmand. He was a beloved husband and father, married to Flora Con Wong for over 63 years. He is survived by Flora, children Yolanda (Blair), Kenneth (Cathy), Rowland (Fiona) and Christine, grandchildren Mika, Mary Ann, Emily, Jacob, Ellen, Djenne and Rosie. He is predeceased by his daughter Belinda (George, deceased). In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the Rekai Foundation (https://www.canadahelps.org/en/ charities/rekai-charitable- foundation/).
He still remembered me from the days he was visiting professor at Nanyang Technological University in the 1990s, where he helped launch the Journal of Enterprising Culture and prompted entrepreneurship research and courses. We stayed in touch over the years. Raymond was responsible for drawing me into the ICSB, an organisation he did much for especially in Canada, where he helped develop the CCSBE and founded the Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
Please allow me to join in expressing my deepest condolences on the loss of Raymond Kao. I will always remember him as a leader in the field of entrepreneurship – a champion of small and medium enterprises, a keen intellect, and super person with whom to enjoy the moment and share stories. He will be deeply missed and always remembered.
Back in 1979, Raymond Kao was one of the founders of the CCSBE-CCPME, then known as ICSB-CIPE Canada, which was the first ICSB subsidiary and activity outside the United States. Raymond was its president for many years, and was also the founder and then the editor of the Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (JSBE). In addition, he organized many national and international entrepreneurship conferences. He was one of the pioneers of entrepreneurship education, both in Canada and abroad, and often went against the current of the dominant academic cultures in the period 1970 to 1990. For many of us, Raymond became a mentor. It was a privilege for me to be able to meet with him at Ryerson Polytechnic in Toronto, in the 1980s, to ask him for advice. Raymond had an outstanding and deeply-held understanding and culture of entrepreneurship. He also developed imaginative teaching strategies, including the extra-curricular program he set up at Ryerson, in which students were able to counsel MSMEs in what became a win-win process for everyone involved. Thank you, Raymond, for all your advice. Your memory will live on in our hearts. Sincere sympathies to the family.