Community service

Longtime Sioux City businesswoman remembered for community service by family and friends | Local ways of life

SIOUX CITY – Kuen Chia Yeh had a philosophy when it came to making sense of every day.

“Life is never smooth,” she said. “If you’re positive, don’t waste time, complain, or worry, you’re making it easier for yourself.”

It was the positive attitude that Yeh, originally from Tai Pei, Taiwan, brought with her when she and her family emigrated to America in 1980. It also helped when she and her husband Steve Chang moved to Sioux City, opening the popular Hunan. Palace Chinese restaurant in 1986.

The drive to succeed also led her to obtain a real estate license, beginning a 15-year career as an agent with United Real Estate Solutions.

“Kuen’s life was all about the people she loved,” Steve Chang told 3521 Singing Hills Blvd at Hunan Palace. dining room. “My wife wanted our two sons to experience things she didn’t have growing up. Plus, she also wanted to see her clients’ dreams come true.”

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Yeh passed away on December 14, 2021, after an 18-month battle with cancer. She was 58 years old.

Calvin Chang, 29, remembered his mother as someone who put the needs of others before his own.

“Mom was always happiest when she helped others, but she was sneaky about it,” said Calvin, a police officer with the Sioux City Police Department. “Mom never wanted you to notice all the hard work she put in.”

Nonetheless, Yeh has always had a thing for children, said Chang, 25, a chemical engineer with the US Department of Defense in Rock Island, Illinois.

“If mom could make a child’s life better in any way, she would do it every time,” Brian explained.


Indeed, Yeh was one of the catalysts for United Real Estate Solution’s annual winter clothing drive, said Kristie VerMulm, the company’s director of communications.

“At Christmas, we collect hats, gloves and mittens, donating them to a local nonprofit,” VerMulm explained. “For the past several years, we have donated clothing and monetary contributions to the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation to help children at Sioux City Community School.”

“One of Kuen’s favorite things was helping out with our ‘Clothes the Gap’ program,” said Miki Nelson of the Public School Foundation. “Kuen always understood that. She understood that a student shouldn’t have to worry about staying warm in the middle of winter. A child’s main concern should be education. If warm clothes can help bridge the learning gap for at-risk children with warm clothing, Kuen agreed wholeheartedly.”

VerMulm knew Yeh’s benevolent ways, firsthand.

“Kuen comes from the restaurant business and I come from the television world,” explained VerMulm, a longtime KTIV presenter. “We were both night owls who worked when everyone was home.”

If Yeh heard VerMulm cough from his desk, a cup of green tea would mysteriously land on his desk.

And during the holidays, bags of “Clothes the Gap” winter items would mysteriously arrive at United Real Estate Solutions.

“Kuen didn’t want anyone else to know about his generosity,” VerMulm said. “But I knew.”


Many people, even his co-workers, were unaware of Yeh’s illness. His cancer diagnosis came near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of our agents were working remotely, and Kuen was very private,” VerMulm said. “She would be devastated if people knew she was sick.”

“If people found out she had cancer, they would treat her differently,” he said. “Kuen would never put up with this.”

As the 2021 holiday season began, Yeh was too sick to collect warm winter clothes on her own. Instead, her care providers at the Hospice of Siouxland took up her “Clothes the Gap” challenge.

“I called United, asked about the clothing drive, and found out the real estate company wasn’t going to do it,” Steve Chang recalled.

“We weren’t going to do it because nobody was in the mood,” VerMulm said. “As soon as I found out what Kuen and his hospice providers were doing, everyone’s holiday spirit came rushing back.”


Once news of Yeh’s illness became public, her colleagues worked hard to continue collecting clothes.

“Most years, Kuen would donate over 100 items to give the children of Sioux City a warmer winter,” VerMulm said. “We wanted to match and exceed that number.”

It wasn’t just United Real Estate Solutions, NAI United and United Escrow that participated. Competing companies like Century 21 Pro-Link, Keller Williams and Realty One Group joined, as did Central Bank, Primebank and Closing Siouxland.

“It was to honor Kuen,” VerMulm said. “She was an inspiration to her colleagues and she was loved by everyone who met her.”


It’s been just over six weeks since Yeh died and Steve Chang still mourns his wife every day.

“Kuen and I were together for over 35 years,” he said. “He was a very special person.”

After her funeral, Calvin Chang marveled at the many people whose lives were impacted by his mother.

“We knew a lot of people knew our mother,” he said. “We didn’t know how many people loved our mother.”

This was largely due to Yeh’s modesty, Brian Chang noted.

“Mom wasn’t looking for compliments,” he said. “She just considered herself lucky and wanted to make a difference wherever she could.”

Steve Chang looked at a framed photo of his late wife.

“Kuen would be mortified if people did the same for her,” he said with a sigh. “Kuen wasn’t looking for applause. She just wanted to make a difference.”

Fortunately, Yeh’s mission to provide at-risk children with winter clothing will continue.

“That’s really what Kuen would want,” said Steve Chang. “His dream was to make every day meaningful while doing something positive for others.”

For his family, friends and clients, this will truly be Yeh’s lasting legacy.