Florence Chien died May 19, 2023 in West Chester of cancer, with her family by her side. She was 92.
Her life was an odyssey, beginning from her birth in 1931 in mainland China at the start of WWII there. Although seared by her experience of foreign invasion and occupation, she loved life and learning. Amid wartime upheaval, her parents relocated the family to Taiwan, where her father directed telecommunications. After obtaining a BA degree in Chinese from Taiwan Normal University, she emigrated with her husband-to-be on a cargo boat to the US.
While adapting to a new society, she studied at Catholic University, worked at the Washington Post library, and started a family. After earning an MA degree in Library Science from the University of Chicago, she worked at its then Far Eastern Library, under the influential curator, Tsien Tsuen-hsuin. At Central Michigan University, she taught Chinese in the Honors College. She never considered herself a born teacher, but with her students she was supremely patient and full of cheer.
After retirement, she began to engage in translation. She published American children’s classics in Chinese, including Charlotte’s Web, The Wheel on the School, It’s Like this Cat, and And Now Miguel. As a senior citizen at CMU, she earned her second MA degree, in English Language & Literature. Her special interests were American realist writers and Chinese themes in American fiction. She translated an array of works on the world literary scene and on women, including the autobiographies of Pearl Buck and Eleanor Roosevelt.
In West Chester, she was the oldest auditor in art department classes. A talented artist, she enjoyed sharing her sketches, pastels, and photos at the annual Township Resident Art Exhibit. She loved flowers, long walks, and especially thrift shops. An absolute priority was home tutoring her American descendants in their linguistic and cultural heritage, that they might better appreciate the past, the world, and life.
She is survived by her daughter Cecilia, her grandson Garrett, a brother, a sister, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband Gabriel and two brothers.
Per Florence’s wishes, there will be no public service. Please consider a donation to the West Chester Public Library or the Natural Lands Trust.
Arrangements by DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home of West Chester, PA 610-696-1181.www.DellaFH.com