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March 5, 2015

Obituary: Chiao-min Hsieh

Chiao-min Hsieh, an emeritus faculty member in the Department of Geology and Planetary Sciences, died Feb. 26, 2015, in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was 96.

Born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, in China, he graduated from Zhejiang University in 1941. He earned his PhD in geography at Syracuse University in 1953. Unable to return to his homeland in the tumultuous 1950s, Hsieh ultimately became a U.S. citizen.

He taught at several universities, including Dartmouth College, University of Leeds, Catholic University, Hong Kong University, National Taiwan Normal University, the Chinese Culture University, and his alma mater, Zhejiang University.

He joined the Pitt faculty in 1969 and retired in 1992.

Hsieh was awarded a Fulbright research professorship three times and was a National Endowment for the Humanities senior fellow.

He wrote several academic books and atlases, including: “China: Ageless Land and Countless People,” “Taiwan Ilha Formosa: A Geography in Perspective,” “Atlas of China,” “Changing China: A Geographic Appraisal” (with Max Lu), and “China, a Provincial Atlas” (with his late wife, Jean Kan Hsieh).

His last book, “Race the Rising Sun,” published in 2009, was a personal account coauthored with his wife of their university years and Zhejiang University’s evacuation from Hangzhou during the Japanese occupation of that city during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Hsieh was a passionate Chinese chess (xiangqi) player and a keen follower of basketball, especially of the Pitt team, his family said.

His wife of 65 years, Jean Kan Hsieh, died in 2012. Surviving are his daughter, Eileen Hsieh, and son-in-law Michael Tomenga; his son, An-Ping Hsieh, and daughter-in-law Sarah Lessels Hsieh, and his grandchildren Brian, Andrew and Kyra Tomenga, and Jessica and Alexander Hsieh.

Memorial contributions may be made to the University Center for International Studies/Asian studies program at