He came to Singapore from China in 1939, alone, with nothing.
And here, he suffered through periods of hunger and homelessness.
After struggling for six years, he opened a food shop so he would not go hungry and would have a place to live in. That shop later became the famous Beng Thin Hoon Kee Hokkien restaurant on Chulia Street.
Its founder, Mr Lim Yew Hoon, eventually made enough to send seven of his nine children overseas for studies.
Mr Lim, from Quanzhou in Fujian province, died of pneumonia on Sunday, at the age of 91.
The youngest of his five sons, Mr Albert Lim, 49, said that in the early days, his father was the only one working at the Hokkien Street restaurant.
He was cook, waiter, cleaner, all in one.
And he was so poor he could not afford to keep food supplies.
"He would take orders and run to the nearest market to buy whatever they ordered. If someone ordered a fish, he would go to buy fish.
"He couldn't buy a whole sack of rice and could only buy it in a can."
He would start the day with one can of rice - enough to feed five or six people -buying more as the day progressed.
"The day he felt successful was when he could start buying things in sacks; buy chicken and keep it in a fridge," he said.
The shop did not have tables and chairs. Instead, wooden cartons were used. And the senior Mr Lim would sleep there.
"Everyone in the family knows his story. I think by telling us, he was trying to say that no matter what you're doing, if you work hard you get something out of it," said Mr Lim.
Madam Lim Lay Bee, his second daughter and third child, recalled that they hardly saw their father when the business was still at Hokkien Street.
Starting out as a single shophouse unit, it expanded to two units and moved to its present location in 1979.