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January 8, 1998

John Wen-djang Chu

John Wen-djang Chu, 83, a faculty member in East Asian languages and literatures from 1962 until his retirement in 1984, died Dec. 27, 1997.

Chu came to Pitt after teaching at the University of Washington and Yale University.

"He was a very valuable part of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures," said David Mills, former chair. According to Mills, Chu's academic background was in Chinese history, but he switched to Chinese language and literature. He worked closely with Dayle Barnes to expand Pitt's East Asian language program.

"He was a very warm person, cared a great deal about students," Mills said. "He was always concerned about what was best for students and what was best for the educational mission of the department." Born on Feb. 15, 1914, in Beijing, Chu was the son of King Ching-nung Chu, president of the National University of China and a top executive in China's Department of Education.

Chu obtained his undergraduate degree from Chi-loo University and his master's degree from Beijing University. The Japanese invasion of China in 1937 prevented Chu from obtaining his Ph.D. Instead, he joined the Chinese army, where he served for eight years, rising to the rank of colonel.

After World War II, Chu received a scholarship from the Chinese government to study in the United States. He went to the University of Washington in Seattle, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Chinese history.

Chu is survived by his wife, Helen Yu-li Chao Chu; a son, Otto, of Point Breeze, and two daughters, Patricia and Lily, both of Washington, D.C.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 30 Issue 9

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