China Daily (Canada) - - DEPTH -

cargo ship built for Fore­most, and after that she was go­ing to Qing­dao, China, for the launch­ing cer­e­mony of an­other ship for Fore­most. “Three ad­di­tional cargo ships are un­der con­struc­tion now,” said Chao.

Chao’s wife, Ruth Mu­lan Chu Chao, died on Au­gust 2, 2007. They had been mar­ried for 56 years.

A coun­try boy

“I came from a poor fam­ily and her fam­ily was very rich,’’ he said. “I was a coun­try boy who was very ac­tive and en­er­getic, such as us­ing a cam­era and de­vel­op­ing pho­tos my­self.’’

On June 6, 2016, all mem­bers of the Chao fam­ily were at the ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony of the Ruth Mu­lan Chu Chao cen­ter at the Har­vard Busi­ness School. Elaine Chao’s hus­band, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mc­Connell, was also there.

Chao asked for a cup of cof­fee after our lunch. No sugar. He was re­laxed, gen­tle and grace­ful. I said that I be­lieved he has noth­ing to worry about at this stage of his life.

“If a man has noth­ing to worry about, that would be bor­ing,” Chao an­swered. “That means you are old, and you would have noth­ing to do with this world. My prin­ci­ple is, at young age, you should as­so­ciate more with se­nior peo­ple, and you would ben­e­fit from their knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ences. At my age, I like to as­so­ciate with young peo­ple. Do­ing so will keep you ac­tive and vig­or­ous.”

To­day, wealth is of­ten used as a main in­di­ca­tor of success, but for Chao his daugh­ters re­flect a far more brilliant and longer-last­ing success that he has achieved. And most peo­ple would agree that the core of the suc­cess­ful story of the Chao fam­ily is the daugh­ters.

“They pos­sess tra­di­tional fil­ial piety,” said Chao. “Elaine al­ways call me every night be­fore I go to bed. If she can’t do it due to trav­el­ing or some other rea­son, she sends an email to me.”

On the eve of the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Don­ald Trump, Chao trav­eled to Wash­ing­ton again. He hosted a din­ner for some old friends, in­clud­ing alumni of Shang­hai Jiao­tong Univer­sity, his alma mater. Elaine and her hus­band at­tended, of whom she said, “I have been very blessed to have a won­der­ful sup­port­ive hus­band. He cooks. He does his own laun­dry.”

Hold­ing her fa­ther’s hand, Elaine said emo­tion­ally: “Not many peo­ple have fa­thers or par­ents who are able to see them in what­ever they do. My mother left on Au­gust 2, 2007. I am ex­traor­di­nar­ily grate­ful that my fa­ther is able to be here and see so much of what his chil­dren have been able to ac­com­plish.”

Vis­it­ing to Fern­cliff

Now, every Satur­day, Chao goes to Fern­cliff Ceme­tery in Harts­dale, New York, about 25 miles north of Mid­town Man­hat­tan, where he pays re­spect to his wife. Soong Mei-ling, Chi­ang Kai-Shek’s wife, is also buried there. Chao pre­pares a cup of tea for her. The same thing he loved to do when she was alive.

“Win­ning her heart was the great­est achieve­ment of my whole life,’’ he said.

Larry Lee is vice-chair­man of China Daily Hold­ing Co Ltd.He can be con­tacted at lar­rylee@ chi­nadai­


The Chao fam­ily re­union in New York in 1961, when Elaine Chao was 8 years old.

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