Chun-Yuen Tung

Chun-Yuen Wu Tung was born on February 20 (on the lunar calendar), 1920 as the oldest child to a farming family in the rural town of Suchen, Jiansu Provence, China. She was later joined by 5 brothers and a sister. 

She must have shown great potentials at local elementary schools because her parents decided to send her away from home to the then capital city to continue her education at the prestigious Nanjing Girls High School. She went on to the National Wuhan University to major in mechanical engineering. Very few women sought a career in engineering those days. Not surprisingly, she was the only female student in her large class. 

This was a time when the war with Japan had broken out and most major Chinese universities held classes on temporary campuses away from the war zone. Therefore, the majority of her college days were spent not in Wu-han but rather in Chunqing, where occasionally all residents had to take shelter from air raids. 

The war ended just as she graduated from college. She worked several jobs, including as a teaching assistant with National Chiao Tung University, before settling down as a graphic engineer with the government-owned China Petroleum Corp (CPC). 

She met her future husband, Shih-Fun (Sam) Tung, a coworker in the same office who was on temporary assignment there before being sent to the US for a long technical-training stay. They kept their communications up by mail while Sam was in the US. They got married upon his return and were assigned by CPC to its research facilities in Taiwan. While there, the takeover of the mainland by the Communist China took place. They were spared the horror of war, as Nationalist Chinese government retreated to the island of Taiwan.

Chun-yuen gave birth to two sons. After the second child, she quit her engineering job and settled full-time into raising children and supporting Sam. He had a series of promotions and was put in charge of the Kaohsiung Oil Refinery (KOR) for over 10 years. After giving up on her own career, Chun-yuen became a housewife. Housewives those days were actually Jacks of all trades. She became very good at cooking, baking, sewing, knitting, gardening, and other house chores, while still finding time to pursue her artistic interests. She studied Chinese painting with two famous artists in Taiwan and kept her own study up for a long time. Eventually, she got to be so good that she held a personal exhibit of her own paintings at a major art house in Taipei. Days in Kaohsiung were very leisurely, as families of all KOR employees lived in several gated communities of houses. Everybody knew everybody else. There was no need to lock one’s door. Chun-yuen learned to play golf and bowling in facilities provided on the compound, free of charge. She became the president of the women’s club on the compound and initiated projects to help KOR residents cope with their daily affairs. She also became a member of Zonta International club, which was dedicated to women’s rights and equity. She was elected president of the local chapter and, during her tenure, led delegations to attend several annual global conventions of Zonta International.

Chun-yuen and Sam moved to Taipei when Sam took a new job first as the CEO and then as the chairman of a large petrochemical company.  Sam eventually became the chairman of a large holding company in Taiwan. His last several jobs required him to take many trips overseas for business and there were also plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and touring. Chun-yuen often went along on these trips and together they’ve been to nearly every corner of the world. 

Sam retired in 1997. Shortly afterwards, he and Chun-yuen immigrated to the US to join their sons who by then both earned Ph.D. in science and engineering and were working in the US. They wanted to move close to their elder son’s family in LA and decided on the Leisure World, at the urging of their in-laws, who were already residents of the LW for a number of years. 

After coming to the LW, Chun-yuen and Sam maintained a very active lifestyle. They joined Chinese Culture Club, a dance club and a bible study club. They were regulars at the clubs’ weekly and monthly events, which include playing Mahjong games, seminars/lectures, pot-luck dinners, and dancing. Chun-yuen applied and was given a small lot in LW’s Mini Farm for a number of years. She had fun growing vegetables and flowers in the Mini Farm and also around their own house. She volunteered to teach a weekly Chinese painting class in Clubhouse 3 for a number of years. Students of that class had an opportunity to proudly show their paintings in a successful and memorable exhibit held a few years ago. Pieces of Chun-yuen’s own work are on display at the hallways of Clubhouse 4.  

Sam passed away in 2014 at the age of 96. Chun-yuen managed to live by herself until she was 100, when at the insistence of her sons she got a house mate to care for her. Chun-yuen has very good memory. She could still recite long Chinese poems she learned from childhood. Her favorite game show is the one on the internet in which all the contestants compete to see who can accurately recite most Chinese poems and answer questions about Chinese poems. 

          She is in very good health and spirits. There is no secret to her longevity. She has interest in many things, never gets angry over anything, and is always content with what she has. She never smoked, doesn’t drink, and has very regular daily routines that include healthy meals and light exercises. Her son videocalls her three times a day, during meals. Chun-yuen still fills a full calligraphy page with Chinese characters, neatly written with Chinese paint brush, every day. She is happy and everybody is happy for her.

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