The former boss of Emporium Holdings Group passed away on Saturday morning at the age of 87.
Mr Lim Tow Yong, who returned to Singapore from Brunei just last month, died of heart failure. He was recommended to undergo surgery last November, but he put it off in the hopes of hosting one more banquet for his staff, said Shin Min Daily News.
Last month, about 1,700 of his former employees attended the $350,000 banquet he threw for them at the Swissotel the Stamford hotel. However, by then, Mr Lim could not make it. Instead, he was warded at the National University Hospital, reported The Straits Times.
Mr Lim's success story is not without its roadbumps. He and his brothers started Emporio Group in the 1960s. From a $10 million turnover in its first year, by 1984, the retail chain had expanded to Malaysia and Hong Kong with a $300 million turnover.
By the mid-80s, though, the firm was saddled with debts due to the recession and bought over by a Hong Kong firm.
When he was 72, Mr Lim was declared a bankrupt.
In this troubled time, he became inspired to recover and work harder, after 800 of his former employees joined forces to throw a special party for him.
In a Sunday Times interview in 2006, Mr Lim, saying he's thought about it every day for the past ten years, said: 'I told myself that I must work harder and one day pay them back.'
In 1999, he ventured into business once again, with shops in Sabah, Labuan and Brunei.
At the age of 82, Mr Lim was once again a millionaire, said ST.
In 2006, he reached out to his former employees to invite them to dinner. He spent almost $300,000 and gave each employee a red packet containing $100.
This year, apart from the dinner, Mr Lim also donated $100,000 to Ren Ci Hospital.
Mr Lim's wake will be held at the Grace Hall of Mount Vernon Sanctuary until Wednesday, the day of the funeral.
He is survived by his wife, three sons, four daughters, 12 grandchildren and one great granddaughter.