James Kan-Chao Foo, 47, of Bryn Mawr, an investment analyst and portfolio manager, and the son of Philadelphia-area restaurateur Susanna Foo, died Saturday, Aug. 10, of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Born in Tallahassee, Fla., Mr. Foo then lived in Indiana, where his father, E-Hsin, was an engineer. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1979 to help Mr. Foo’s grandparents run the Hu-Nan Chinese restaurant in Center City.
As boys, Mr. Foo and his brother, Gabriel, worked at Hu-Nan on weekends, and sometimes joined their parents on early morning trips to the Food Distribution Center to shop for fresh meat, poultry, and produce.
In 1987, Mr. Foo’s mother opened Susanna Foo, a restaurant on Walnut Street featuring a fusion of Chinese and French cuisines. The venture was such a hit that Food and Wine magazine named her the best new chef in 1989. Her success led to two more restaurants, one in Radnor and the other on Sansom Street in Center City.
Mr. Foo attended the Haverford School, where he excelled in academics and track and field. After graduating in 1990, he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University in 1994 and an MBA in finance from New York University in 2002.
Mr. Foo joined Ernst & Young in San Francisco as an analyst. Soon after the move, he was introduced to Elizabeth Chow, a New York native who was working on the West Coast.
The two had a strong connection, and in 2003, when Mr. Foo was offered a job as a researcher and portfolio manager at Bryn Mawr Capital Management, they moved to Philadelphia. They planned a future together here, but chose San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum as the site of their 2005 wedding.
Mr. Foo worked for 12 years at Bryn Mawr Capital, a hedge fund. He rose before dawn to trade on European equity markets and developed expertise in analyzing international stocks.
In early 2017, Mr. Foo and Philip Ravenscroft, a former Bryn Mawr Capital colleague, formed their own investment firm, Tournus Capital Management, in Radnor. Mr. Foo was a partner at Tournus until early last year, when he retired. The company closed last July.
“To work with him was similar to how he was as a person, very gregarious, and he had that patience,” Ravenscroft said. “He was a really nice, relaxed person, but in his work, he really understood things fully and deeply. As a statistical analyst, I can’t overemphasize the quality of his work. He just knew.”
Mr. Foo enjoyed travel, fine wines, Alfred Hitchcock movies, and sports. He witnessed the Phillies’ 2008 World Series win and the Eagles’ 2018 Super Bowl championship. Mr. Foo was happiest cheering at his children’s swim meets, vacationing, or watching movies from the couch.
He was diagnosed with ALS in November 2015. “One important thing that I have gained as a result of this devastating diagnosis is a new perspective on life and what is truly important,” he said after his diagnosis. “I am in great spirits and will not let this disease defeat me because my family and friends are too important for me to give up. ALS may take away my body, but it will not take away my will or my spirit.”
At the 2018 Walk to Defeat ALS in Philadelphia and then in Silicon Valley, Mr. Foo and his wife raised a combined amount of $115,000 for the ALS Association.
Mr. Foo rarely sought the limelight. “Those who met him were taken with his gentle warmth and contagious good cheer,” his family said.
Mr. Foo’s father died in 2010. Besides his mother, wife, and brother, he is survived by daughters Cassandra and Vivienne, and son Kent.
Visitations will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, and 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Chadwick & McKinney Funeral Home, 30 E. Athens Ave., Ardmore. A life celebration will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, at the Merion Cricket Club, 325 Montgomery Ave., Haverford. Burial is private.