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Orchard Road ‘beads uncle’ dies aged 80: 'The beads were his life', says family

Madam Hew Lin Yin, 77, and Oh Wei Heng, 17, who are the wife and grandson of the late Oh Ow Kee, at his funeral wake on June 8, 2022.

Madam Hew Lin Yin, 77, and Oh Wei Heng, 17, who are the wife and grandson of the late Oh Ow Kee, at his funeral wake on June 8, 2022.

SINGAPORE — Rain or shine, in the past 15 years, Oh Ow Kee would make his way to Orchard Road and swing a long chain of giant beads around his neck and waist, entertaining crowds of tourists and shoppers outside Ngee Ann City mall. 

The beads were so important to him that it was one of the first things he asked for when he woke up in the hospital after a car accident in November 2020, his daughter Jan Oh said.

Her 80-year-old father died on June 5, and family members who spoke to TODAY described him as a "passionate" man whose life circled around the wooden woola beads he would swing. 

“The last 15 years or so has been the height of his life, despite his old age,” Ms Oh said.

“Two weeks before his death, he still made his way to Orchard Road to busk… the beads were his life,” she added.
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