Joseph Hui-sheng Chu, age 93, passed away Feb. 23, 2013.
Joe served at SIU-C from 1965 to 1983 as: International Student Adviser, Director of International Education and Assistant Director of [Area] Regional Research and Service. Joe was instrumental in attracting international students to SIU-C and establishing its global outreach programs. He helped develop SIU-C’s International Ambassador program to 41 countries and actively promoted Illinois’ foreign trade. He was recruited to SIU-C by Dr. Jacobs, a naval officer who knew Joe from service during World War II, during the the growth of SIU-C under President Delyte W. Morris.
He was born in Tong-Ka-Tu, Shanghai, China on October 26, 1919 to Mr. Joseph Jilin Chu and Mrs. Catherine Song-Yu Chu. Mr. and Mrs. Chu were prominent members of Shanghai’s commercial and cultural life. The Chu family was active in the endowment of churches, hospitals and housing for their community. Mrs. Chu was a member of the extended Soong family, which was prominent in the founding of the Republic of China. Mr. Chu was Chairman or Director of various business in Shanghai; China Power Co., Electric Street Car Co., China Steamboat Co. and the real estate association.
His ancestral family had been converted to Roman Catholicism in the 1600s by the Jesuits and Joe was baptized and confirmed at the Tong-Ka-Tu Catholic Church in Shanghai. A sister became a nun, Sister Saint Michael Chu, and a brother was ordained a Jesuit priest, Father Vincent Chu. Father Chu was imprisoned by the communists for many years, before and during the Cultural Revolution, for his refusal to renounce allegiance to The Holy See rather than the communist Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Father Chu was released in 1979 and then imprisoned in 1983, he was sentenced to 15 years and was later released in 1985 under changing political conditions. Joe’s parents died in Shanghai after the communists came to power in China in 1949; the family’s property was confiscated and their family’s and the Church’s records were destroyed. His siblings pre-deceased him. Three nephews, Eddie Chu, Tom Chu and David Chu survive him.
Joe graduated from St. John’s University, Shanghai, China in January 1942 with a B.A. in government. Shanghai was then held by the Japanese Army. After graduation Joe journeyed to Chungking [now Chongqing], on the Yangtze River, where he joined the Chinese Army and became a Captain. Chungking was the wartime capital of the Republic of China which had been at war with the Empire of Japan since 1937. Japan attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
From July1942 to December 1945, Captain Chu served as an intelligence officer with the U.S. Office of Economic Warfare in Chungking. He was tasked with the identification of economic and military targets in Japan, China and other occupied territories for target maps for the U.S. Army Air Force. As a trusted translator and liaison, Joe dealt directly with China’s Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, U.S. General Joseph Stilwell, joint commander of American and Chinese forces, and General Thomas G. Hearn, Chief of Staff. He provided targeting information directly to General Claire Chennault, of Flying Tiger fame, during the war years. The war came to a formal conclusion on V.J. Day, September 2, 1945.
Joe then served with the United Nation’s Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Administration for China from 1946-1947 and was Chief of Protocol to two Chinese Prime Ministers, under President Chiang-Kai-shek, from 1947 to 1949. After the mainland fell, Joe was translator for the U.S. Naval attache in Taipei, Taiwan and from 1952 to 1963 was the Chief Education Specialist for U.S. Agency for International Development on Taiwan. In 1963, Joe received a Fulbright-Hays award to go to the University of Minnesota to study Industrial Education. The U.S. Embassy in Taipei, Taiwan provided the letter of recommendation and he came to the U.S. under a Department of State International Educational Exchange Program. He returned to Taiwan in 1964 to serve as Special Assistant to the Ministry of Education. He came to SIU-C in 1965.
Joe married Celine A. Nordhus, of Seneca, Kansas on March 3, 1970. Celine was a cultivated lady known for her graceful water color paintings of the flowers of Southern Illinois in traditional Chinese style. Her paintings with her personal “chop” or seal adorn many homes. She died in 1990, age 51. In her honor, Joe established the Celine A. Chu Memorial Scholarship for students majoring in painting at SIU-C. Joe’s ashes will be interned at Celines’s gravesite in Seneca, Kansas.
Joe found companionship and later married Karen Flesig on May 31, 2001. Through Karen, he had a stepson, Ian Carl Fricker. She now resides in Florida.
In retirement, Joe would recount his wartime service with the U.S. Military with great pride and often commented that the U.S. was the greatest country in the world. In the 1980s, Joe decided to take up a long-standing offer for an expedited citizenship process and proudly took his oath to the U.S. in St. Louis, Mo.