[quote style=”boxed” ]“Success comes from within, Asian, Black, Latino or mix of any other (races), it all starts with you.”[/quote]
This message was the essence of a speech delivered by renowned artist, designer and entrepreneur Dominic Pangborn when he served as motivational speaker at the Prayer Night of the Kiwanis Metro North (KMN) last May 2 at the Shields restaurant in Troy.
The audience was in awe and showing pure admiration as Pangborn recounted his humble beginning as the son of a poor Korean woman and an unidentified American soldier whom he had not known and met.
Pangborn said, “It’s been an honor having received many awards and recognition, but my greatest joy and achievements are sharing, paying forward and giving back to the community. Today, I’m more proud of my heritage not only as an Asian but as an American.”
The KMN’s Prayer Night last May 2 was a full-house event attended by its members, fellow Kiwanians from the Cosmopolitan Detroit Club and other family members and friends . The occasion honored the memories of the departed members of KMN and their spouses.
The event opened with the singing of the national anthems led by Past KMN President Johnny White with guitar accompaniment by Cesar Gemino. Past President and Past Lieutenant Governor Roger Palaganas led the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, while Past KMN President Jovi Engalan delivered the invocation.
Past KMN President Cecile Espino, Treasurer Lourdes Gungab and Brenda San Agustin shared in the task of organizing the event.
The departed members who were remembered were Henry Ambrosio, Joe Asuncion, Cesar Cabrera, Alice Dionisio, Rufino Gungab,Medi Maroto, Oro Mendinueto, Manny Reynoso, Romy Salaysay, David White, Elvira White, Milton White and Rosy White.
The solemn ceremony was capped by a special prayer of remembrance read by incumbent KMN President Fe Inez. This was followed by the lighting of the candles and offering of flowers by the families of the deceased.
Afterwards, in a rare and exclusive appearance, Pangborn delivered his inspiring speech which is a touching account about his life.
He was born and grew up in a poverty-stricken and devastated post-war Korea. In an attempt to keep him away from the prejudicial taunts by other children and with her desire to provide him a better life, Dominic’s mother sent him to join Catholic missionaries who went to the US on a mission. Dominic was then 10 years old. He was later adopted by the Pangborn family of Jackson, Michigan. Pangborn disclosed the details of his difficult life while he was still in Korea, recalling that his struggles started when he was only four years old.
He recalled that at an early age, he found the wonderful world of art that allowed him to express himself to the fullest. At age 12, he already had a full grasp of the art medium and sold his first art work for $145 to a colleague of his dad. At that moment, art his career was born.
Dominic earned his graphic design degree from the Chicago Academy of Arts. While he was only an apprentice, he was promoted to chief designer within one year of his employment at Ed Jasper Studio in Chicago. He attended the Illustrators Workshop at Syracuse University in New York, and the executive program at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. A former professor at the Detroit College of Creative Studies, he was awarded with an honorary doctorate from the Marygrove College in Detroit.
Since the start of this century, Dominic has continued to evolve as an artist with his attention concentrated on fine art. He revolutionized his work by experimenting with new mediums, often combining various mediums to create completely new kinds of artwork.
In his first fine art show held in 2007, all his collections were sold out. It was then that the next phase of his dynamic career took off. Today, art creations are collected worldwide
Dominic’s fashion label, the Pangborn Design Collection, was established to cater to upscale retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, as well as exclusive boutiques. He had also incorporated home decor and other media into his work. He himself had opened retail stores in Metro Detroit and in St. Thomas Virgin islands.
Today, he serves on the boards of various charity and non- profit organizations . He travels extensively in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
As a Korean adoptee brought to America, he always reflected on the opportunities presented to him and, in turn, he passionately gives back his time, talent and heart to the community.