BY SARA TABIN
Daily Post Staff Writer
Scott Chan of Los Altos and his adult daughter, Kendra Chan, went on snorkeling trips near the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California every year where the pair delighted in exploring ocean caves and finding underwater creatures. They both died Monday in the dive boat fire that claimed 34 lives.
Kevin Chan, son to Scott Chan and brother to Kendra Chan, told the Post that the pair had been on the boat that caught fire over 20 times in the past. They shared a love of adventure, science and nature, and diving was one of their passions, he said. “As a way of coping, I can only imagine my sister and my dad on their last dives, because I know they must have found a bright orange fish … or a school of dolphins,” he said. “I know they had a great time up until their final moments.”
An engineer who became a teacher
Scott Chan, 59, grew up in Berkeley where he was one of two Chinese students at his high school, according to Kevin Chan. Scott Chan received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford and worked for two decades as an engineer in Silicon Valley. He left his job in 2002 to spend more time with his young children. In 2011, Chan got a teaching degree from Santa Clara University so that he could teach high school science. Kevin Chan said the career switch was his father’s way of giving back to his community.
Scott Chan was a physics teacher at American High School in Fremont when he died.
Brian Killgore, public information officer for Fremont Unified School District, said Chan was a passionate teacher who brought energy and innovation into the school and his lessons. He said Chan worked with over 160 students a day.
“His willingness to put his past career behind to do something to the benefit of young people is something I greatly admire,” said Killgore.
Her passion was research
Kevin Chan said his sister Kendra Chan, 26, thrived around other people and was often the glue that bound her friend groups together. She made outdoorsy friends who shared her love of snorkeling, hiking and surfing.
Kendra Chan worked as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura. She had been interested in the ocean since she was a child, said Kevin Chan. Everything in her bedroom, even the pillows and wallpaper, were ocean themed. He said she could identify any animal on the California Coast.
“Her passion was to do research,” said Kevin Chan. “She wanted to further scientific advancement.”
In a 2018 video created about her by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Kendra Chan spoke about her scuba trips with her father.
“I love it,” said Kendra Chan. “My favorite thing to do… is to stare at a rock or stare at a kelp holdfast and just watch all the tiny little creatures come alive, and you notice the little tiny details and that’s what really gets me going.”
Kendra Chan said that working as a scientist encouraged her to stand up for herself and ask questions rather than take things at face value. She credited her parents with having encouraged her to pursue her interests.
Encouraged others to be scientists
In the video, she invited other people who are interested in science and nature to get outside, get involved and volunteer their time for citizen science projects.
“You don’t have to be a biologist on paper to really be a scientist in real life,” said Kendra Chan.
UC-Davis Chancellor Gary May said Kendra Chan pursued her fascination with marine ecology at Davis by working in the Bodega Marine Lab for two summers and studying biodiversity in the Stachowicz Lab. She was also co-president of Davis SEEDS, where she supported fellow students in making the transition from college to career.
“Kendra made her mark at UC-Davis,” May said in a statement. “We are grateful for her contributions to our campus community and her dedication to creating a healthier planet. We will remember her.”
Kendra Chan’s mother and Scott Chan’s widow is Vicki Moore, a member of the Santa Clara County Planning Commission.