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March 8, 2003

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In Memory of Lichun Han Walls...

Family, friends, coworkers, and students attended her service. She must have enjoyed the turnout that overflowed the church. A reception followed where people ate, drank, regarded pictures that adorned every wall, and remembered... It was a day of remembrance, so much to recall about a life well lived.

The day began with readings of famous Chinese poetry by Li Po.

A Parting Beyond Thorn-Gate Mountain Li Po

From way beyond Thorn-gate mountain

I traveled with you into the land of Ch'u:

This is where the moorland mountains end

And the streams flow on into the great plain.

Now under the moon,

A mirror that sails the skies,

And under the swelling clouds that weave sea-palaces,

I bid you goodbye: a thousand miles you sail away

On the river that carries you to your old home.

Taking Leave Li Po

Blue hills rearing over the north wall;

White water swirling to the east of the city:

This is where you must leave me -

A lone puff of thistledown

on a thousand-mile journey.

Ah the drifting clouds

and the thoughts of a wanderer!

The setting sun

and emotions of old friends.

A wave of the hand now

and you are gone.

Song of Ch'ing-P'ing Li Po

From the clouds we remember her garments

in the flowers see her face;

A spring wind sweeps the balustrade,

pearls of dew lie thick.

If you find her not on the mountain of Many Jewels,

You will meet her by moonlight

in the Palace of Jasper.


Her main passions were: spending time with family, working, playing contract bridge, and traveling.

What was her favorite place? She enjoyed viewing Egypt's pyramids, exploring an Incan city, or shopping in London and Paris, yet she would say watching wildlife in Africa topped the list.
Our last trip as a family carried us to Romania to visit Ed at his Peace Corps assignment.
Our last picture together, at home for Christmas, 2002.
The Eulogies:
Her husband, Phil-
Lichun was born in Kwei Chow during the war between China and Japan. The family lived in Nanking after the war ended. Her father was an important official there, but things changed when the communists ascended to power. The family fled to Hong Kong in 1949. Lichun attended school there for a short time, then everyone moved to Taiwan. She graduated from Tai Da, the #1 national university, with a major in agricultural chemistry. She decided on a graduate degree and was accepted at Vanderbilt University. In 1962 she took a slow boat from China to L.A. There she boarded a bus to ride across country to Nashville, TN. She read English okay because she studied it for years in Taiwan, but she didn't speak it well at that time. At bus stops she would see what other passengers ate and tried to order the same. When she ordered a hamburger, she bit into it and discovered to her horror that it was food that dripped with blood! This was not like familiar Chinese style food. She eventually grew to like hamburgers [well done].
She studied hard at Vanderbilt and graduated with a Masters degree in Biochemistry. Her study technique included cross- examining teachers after class on points she needed to clarify from reading. She always felt that questions were a fine way to learn and never gave up this technique. In 1964, after Nashville, Lichun took a lab technician job with Dr. Morris Cynkin in the biochemistry department at Tufts Medical School. Dr. Alton Meister was the chairman. She soon realized that she would be doing the same work if she were a Ph.D. candidate, and was accepted to the doctoral program. We met in biochemistry class, which mixed beginning medical and doctoral students. She got an A while I got a passing grade.
We dated and got married at the end of the 3rd year of our studies. We both graduated in 1968 after living in subsidized housing in our 4th year. Lichun had a good job offer in Philadelphia in 1969 to work in the Smith Kline French labs, but had to turn it down when we moved to accommodate my service assignment in the Navy in California. Wes was born in CA, where Lichun worked at Fresno State teaching medical lab techniques. The FBI offered her a lab director job, but she had to turn that down when I went to residency training in Sacramento. Ed was born during our trip to China in 1973 in my last year of residency. The trip was part of training as a study of Chinese medical education and psychiatric practice.
Lichun was the interpreter, traveler, and mother. We moved to Maryland where I had a fellowship in Washington, D.C. We were not here more than a week when Dr. Clara Adams called Lichun from Morgan State. Lichun had sent resumes around in her usual thorough way of preparation and foresight. A teacher had suddenly taken a position elsewhere, and Dr. Adams was glad to find a qualified applicant in Lichun when they met for the interview. She began immediately, starting 28 years of service in the Morgan Chemistry Department. For the first two years, Lichun commuted from Temple Hills, MD to Baltimore while I finished my fellowship in D.C. Afterwards, it was my turn to find a job in Baltimore because Lichun was firmly established in her career, liked teaching, and she had already given up three good jobs to accommodate me. Besides, we both like Baltimore. How she managed to keep house, start a new career, commute, raise two small kids and juggle all those things shows how well she could organize time. At least the commuting was no problem after we moved to Towson. The rest she did wonderfully up until the last week of her life, when she taught two classes and had an impromptu retirement party. Lichun was cramming as much activity and responsibility into each day until the very end. We miss her every day and will never forget her courage during her illness, and how she showed her love by exerting her energy for family, friends, students and colleagues.
Her son, Wes -

"Characteristics stand out when I think of my mother: loving, a peacemaker, and generous in everything except when playing bridge. Where will our conversations be without a funny remark from Mom? She always wanted grandchildren. When we moved into our town home in Maryland, she pressed for grandkids as the next step from owning a new home. I answered, 'you'll have grandkids in due time, Mom,' and then I added, 'so long as my plumbing works.' She replied, 'Your house is new so that should be under warranty.'"

"She loved traveling. She wanted to be a 'true' backpacker. She wanted to experience how Jill and I traveled; she wanted to live rough and I think getting by on 10 bucks a day appealed to her sense of thriftiness. I don't think she fully grasped the backpacker concept, though, because while Dad carried the backpacks she daintily pulled a piece of hand luggage. Jill and I dragged our parents all over Eastern Europe. We rode crowded public buses and third class trains, walked instead of hiring taxis, lost our way in twisting alleyways, and always negotiated for the cheapest accommodation. At its low point we arrived in the Bulgarian capital at 3 AM without any idea where to stay. The city was dark. We walked into a youth hostel, no receptionist, just young travelers sleeping on the floor, cheek to cheek. After hesitating, she adapted quickly and plopped herself down and went to sleep. Jill and I were mortified; we thought the conditions were a little too rough for her yet she never complained about it and actually enjoyed traveling like a person 1/3 of her age. So if we were watching elephants in Africa or parading down a cobblestone street in Europe, she was always the last to call it quits. She wanted her last penny's worth and I think she would jump in an icy pool, midwinter, even though she couldn't swim, if she thought it was part of the program. She retired a few days before she died and she kept her work schedule current."

"No one could foresee how quickly the end would come. When my parents sent word that Mom was deteriorating rapidly, we were on the other side of the world, in India. I called her before boarding the plane home. She could barely speak and she spoke her last words to me. She said, "I'm very sick. I'm trying to hold on until you come home." From the airport it took over a day to return. I entered our home without knowing if she was still alive inside. She couldn't see or speak but she moaned when she heard my voice. I thanked her for holding on; this was her last gift to me. So much suffering she had borne to survive. Hard tumors covered her body. I held her hand, stroked her hair and face, and talked to her. Sometimes she reacted to my words. She was gasping and she must have felt such pain. For one hour we sat together. She started to make noises again as if she was trying to say something. I pressed my head to her cheek. I said, "I know. I understand. We'll be with you again. Relax. Let go." She stopped struggling and her breathing became slow. Ten minutes later she stopped breathing."

"Throughout her life she showed uncompromising, devoted, pure, love. She created this love and gave it to me. Her grandchildren will receive it from me."

Her daughter-in-law, Jill -

"Mom taught us how to live life. She possessed everlasting energy and was always ready for adventure. Her most adventurous trip took place in Africa. She never worried about getting malaria, falling prey to a lion, or getting trampled by an elephant. We had our close calls. Once before dawn we were surprised by a 2000 lb Cape buffalo which we thought was a bush. The buffalo didn't appreciate being woken up at that early hour. Another time we almost stepped on a hippo that we didn't see lying in a mud pool. Mom sprained her ankle on one of these walks but she refused to let it slow her down."

"She passed on her best qualities to her children: energy, ambition, and determination not to miss out on what life has to offer. And don't think for a minute she hasn't taken a lot of credit for this. She would be the first one to identify a good characteristic in her sons and take full credit for it. She was a proud mom. One day I hope to see these qualities in my children. I will see their energy and desire to experience everything. This will give me a big smile to think of mom saying - 'They get that from me'."


Proverbs 31:25-29 NIV She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."