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Early Life

 Kun Ti Chen (陳坤地) was born on October 7, 1940 in Taipei, Taiwan to father Chen Chuang Wang (陳傳旺) and mother Wang Wu Eng (王鳥寅). He was the first of seven children—four brothers and three sisters in all. His father, like his father before him, was a rice miller. As was typical of the time, he lived together as part of a big extended family. His uncles, aunts, and cousins lived in connected houses separated only by sliding wooden doors.

Kun Ti attended nearby public schools through high school. He was an outstanding student. In fact, his academic performance exempted him from all but one of the dreaded entrance exams for schools. After graduating from high school, he moved to Tainan at the southern end of Taiwan to attend 成功大學 (National Cheng Kung University)—what he assured us was the “MIT of Taiwan”) to study electrical engineering.

The Big Move

In 1968, after his mandatory two years of service in the Republic of China’s military as a naval officer, Kun Ti moved by himself to North Carolina State University where he finished a MS in Electrical Engineering. As he was finishing his studies, a friend encouraged him to move to Pittsburgh, PA, where, this friend claimed, “you could literally walk down the street, pick a random door, and get a job.” As promised, Kun Ti found a job as a draftsman with the Dravo Corporation, a company that has manufactured everything from landing craft for the Normandy Invasion to structural parts for the Bay Bridge. At night, he continued his studies as a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. While a student at Pitt, he met his bride-to-be Komi Kuo, who was studying for her master’s degree in Library Science.

In 1970, Kun Ti (now Kenny) got a job with Westinghouse Electric’s Nuclear Power Division, his lifelong employer until his retirement in 1996. That year, Kenny and Komi also had their first son Francis (Frank). Five years later, they would have their second son Timothy. Between the two sons, Kenny became a US citizen.

Homecoming

After the Three Mile Island accident shuttered the US market for nuclear power plants, Westinghouse posted Kenny overseas—back to his hometown of Taipei. So in 1982, the Chen family moved to Taiwan. Kenny would work diligently on Westinghouse’s behalf selling nuclear power to the state-owned utility company until his retirement in 1996.

In 1997, Kenny and Komi moved back to the US and settled near their children (by this time, both sons were professional Silicon Valley nerds) in San Jose, CA. Kenny enjoyed gardening and traveling in his retirement, but he wasn’t quite ready to retire yet. On a whim while getting his Nissan serviced—and much to the shock of the family—he took a job selling Nissans. Even more shockingly, he won a salesperson of the month award during his time at the dealership—mostly because he would steer his customers away from the dealership’s high-margin extras. He didn’t need the extra commissions and wanted to do right by his customers. After about a year, Kenny would retire for good.

Long avid travelers, Kenny and Komi travelled even more extensively in the following years, logging trips all around the world to China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Paraguay, the Panama Canal, Egypt, Greece, Istanbul, South Africa, and many national parks in the United States. Kenny also greatly enjoyed seeing his grandkids once a week.

Kenny is survived by his wife of more than 40 years Komi; his two sons Frank and Tim; his grandchildren Colin, Katye, and Cameron, with one more grandchild on the way; and all six of his siblings.

Chinese Translation

 早年的陳坤地

陳坤地,民國二十九年十月七日生於台灣省台北市,父親陳傳旺與母親王烏寅共育有七名子女,陳坤地於四男三女中排行老大。陳坤地的父親是位碾米廠的經營者,就像早期台灣傳統的大家庭生活方式一樣,陳坤地一家人與他的叔叔、嬸嬸及堂兄弟姊妹們一同住在每個家庭僅隔著木製拉門的合院式建築裡。

陳坤地直到高中都就讀於家鄉附近的公立學校,而他一直以來都是名列前茅的好學生。事實上,在陳坤地的求學生涯中,除了一次入學考試外,他憑藉著自己極其優異的成績表現,順利地免試直升了許多學校。高中畢業後,他進入位於南台灣的成功大學(National Cheng Kung University)電機工程系(electrical engineering)就讀,他曾向我們說:「成功大學可算得上是台灣的MIT(美國麻省理工學院)呢!」

重要歷程

結束了兩年海軍軍官的義務兵役後,坤地於民國五十七年隻身前往美國北卡羅萊納州,並於該地北卡州大(North Carolina State University) 取得電機工程碩士學位。在他即將取得碩士學位前,他的朋友鼓勵他搬到賓州的匹茲堡,

並告訴他說:「你沿著匹茲堡的街上走,隨意挑個門走進去就可以獲得一份工作!」之後,果然如他朋友所言,坤地很快地在當地就找到了一份製圖設計的工作,這家公司名為Dravo Corporation,是一家生產各式機具與零組件的公司,從諾曼地登陸所使用的登陸艇到建造跨海大橋所需的零組件都是由此公司所生產的。勤奮好學的坤地在下班後,利用夜間的時間於匹茲堡大學繼續深造,並且順利地取得他的博士學位。於匹茲堡求學期間,坤地遇見了在該校就讀圖館系碩士的 Komi Kuo,也就是日後與坤地共組家庭的郭女士。

民國五十九年,坤地(英文名:肯尼Kenny)旋即於美國西屋公司的核電事業處找到了一份工作,而他在西屋公司服務至民國八十五年才退休,可以說他大半生的職涯都奉獻給了西屋。進入西屋工作的同年間,坤地與妻子的第一個孩子-Francis(Frank)出生了。五年後,家中增添了新成員-即第二個兒子Timothy的報到,隨著家中兩子的相繼出生,坤地也取得了美國公民身份。

歸鄉之路

由於三哩島電廠輻射外洩事件對美國核電市場造成莫大的衝擊,西屋公司決定外派坤地到他的家鄉-台北。於是,坤地一家人因緣際會地於民國七十一年回到台灣,坤地代表西屋公司在台灣銷售核電相關產品給台灣的國營事業,這外派的工作一直持續到民國八十五年結束。隔年,坤地與妻子回到美國,選擇兒子們居住地的附近定居-即加州的聖荷西。(順道一提:兩個兒子都是典型的美國矽谷電腦呆瓜)

退休後的坤地相當熱愛園藝生活及旅遊的活動,但其實他並不是真的已準備好要退休了。讓家人感到相當意外的是,坤地突發奇想地當起了Nissan 的銷售員,開始從事與汽車有關的業務。更讓家人震驚的是,完全沒有汽車銷售經驗的他,竟能在短時間內獲得Nissan「單月最佳銷售獎」,的肯定。而坤地成功的原因,主要是因為他並不執著於銷售的傭金報酬,反而總是貼心地為客戶的權益著想。約莫一年後,坤地真的選擇退休了。他與妻子在這往後的幾年間相當熱中於旅行,在全球各地的許多國家都曾留有夫妻倆的足跡,無論是在亞洲的中國、日本、韓國、越南、柬埔寨及寮國;美洲的墨西哥、巴西、哥倫比亞、巴拉圭、巴拿馬運河;甚至是埃及、希臘、伊斯坦堡及南非…等地他們也都造訪過;而美國本地的這些國家公園更是他們必訪的景點。除了旅行之外,坤地也非常享受每週與孫子們相聚的含飴弄孫之樂。

最後,與坤地結褵超過四十多年的郭女士、坤地的兒子Frank及Timothy、孫子Colin、Katye、Cameron及一位即將報到的孫子,以及坤地的六位弟妹們,在此向遠道而來弔謁的親友們表達最誠摯的感謝!

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Frank Chen

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