the friends of Kam Wah Chung About Us




The Friends of Kam Wah Chung is a non-profit 501c3 organization run by volunteers whose mission is to provide public access to the historic site.  In addition, we educate and inform future generations about the importance of the Chinese immigrants whose influence and contributions helped define the culture and history of the American West.



Meet the Friends




























Board Members




Adele Cerny, President


As a lover of museums, Kam Wah Chung ranks at the top of my list because it is a unique and amazing time capsule. It gives a rare glimpse into the Chinese culture in a frontier setting. As a local teacher, my class and I toured the museum on a yearly basis since it opened. Each year, it was a treasured experience for my students.  Now that I am retired, it is an exciting opportunity to serve on the Friends of Kam Wah Chung board.



Click on  Letter From the Prez. for more from Adele.











Karen Jacobs, Secretary


My first visit to Kam Wah Chung was a solo tour with Carolyn Micnhimer, nearly 30 years ago.  She brought the place to life and at that moment I knew this was a unique and special place.


I feel fortunate to serve with this enthusiastic group to help preserve and extend this historical gem to future visitors.












Taci Philbrook


I am passionate about preserving historical cultures and the historical archives being housed in museums. With information so easily accessible on the web, I fear that one day museums will become obsolete. But nothing can beat a hands-on approach, or getting up close and personal with history. A museum can inspire someone to form their own unique experience with history. They are informal learning centers full of lessons in humanity. Museums preserve legacies of communities.


I would like to be a part of the preservation efforts in retaining the rich legacies inside the Kam Wah Chung museum. My efforts will directly affect community awareness of the historical icons, and the history housed therein. Thank you for this opportunity.





Cindy Dougharity-Spencer


As a lover of history, and an educator, being a board member of the Friends of Kam Wah Chung  seems like a logical role for me to take on.


I first visited Kam Wah Chung in 1980 as an elementary student. To this day, every time I visit, I always find something that I missed on a previous visit.


I am excited for the opportunity to help ensure that other visitors will continue to enjoy this treasure of  Chinese culture and history in Grant County.



Katee Withee


    My love of history and public service led me to an education and career in Archaeology, with an interest in public interpretation. I am an Archaeologist for a local, federal land management agency and I am very interested in the relationship to and connections between the Kam Wah Chung Co. and local archaeological discoveries.


Archaeological study can often compliment or enhance previous understandings. The museum and archival materials are incredible resources and provide opportunities to refine and expand narratives regarding local, regional, and global histories.


Serving as a board member for the Friends of Kam Wah Chung organization is an incredibly humbling and exciting opportunity that I very much look forward to.




Gary Wilson


As a longtime activist in local non-profits, the opportunity to become involved with this wonderful organization, Friends of Kam Wah Chung, is a dream come true and indeed an honor.  The Friends, this Heritage Site and Oregon Parks and Recreation have embarked on a substantial development effort and I look forward to assisting in this cause over the next several years.


This local "gem" holds a unique place in Oregon history.  A history willingly shared with visitors who arrive in Grant County from all over the world.  These are exciting times for the John Day Basin, state of Oregon and the Friends of Kam Wah Chung.





Shaniko Cowie




I am a third generation Grant County resident whose family was here during the time the Kam Wah Chung was open. It is interesting to imagine the John Day Valley at that time. I am excited to be involved with the Friends of the Kam Wah Chung!











Website Coordinator & Special Projects Volunteer




Kyle Cline


I am a practitioner of Chinese medicine in John Day, following in the footsteps of  Doc Hay. I first learned of KWC in 1980 before going to China to study.  Ing Hay was, and is, an inspiration to how I practice today.


The legacy of Kam Wah Chung goes beyond historical interest for me.  It is very timely and applicable to our lives today.   We can learn so much from how they lived in this beautiful place.








Staff Members





Chris Labhart, Store Manager


I am always excited to welcome visitors to our wonderful diamond in the rough. Visitors are always  amazed after taking a guided tour of the museum and visiting the interpretive center before or after their guided tour.  I enjoy answering questions and providing information to our  visitors on places to explore in Grant County.














Museum Curator



Don Merritt



Ever since I could remember, I have had a passion for western history, even through college.  What I like about Kam Wah Chung is not only what we have already learned about this national treasure with the unique archival written histories and documents and unique items in the Kam Wah Chung building,  but what we have yet to learn.  The archaeological potential to add more to the story of the local Chinese history in John Day and to the Chinese experience in the west is quite exciting!









Oregon Parks & Recreation Regional Manager




Dennis Bradley


As Park Manager I was involved with the 2005 restoration campaign of Kam Wah Chung and have seen the building and collection come to life due to  the many preservation projects that were completed. The most fascinating things to me are all the artifacts and apothecary area.


Having worked with a number of friends groups I would say the Kam Wah Chung Friends group are very compassionate about their mission and have contributed many hours of volunteer time and sought funding for a number of projects. The most recent and ongoing project involves the translation of documents written in Chinese. These documents once translated could tell many more stories of Doc Hay and Lung On and their prominence in the John Day community and region.






Kam Wah Chung is the amazing place it is because of the many volunteers who have contributed time, donations and energy to preserve it.  Click on Volunteers to meet some of these wonderful people.






 ©  2019  Friends of Kam Wah Chung

Chinese Year of the Earth Pig 4717