her Life

Life Lessons and Stories over a Cup of Tea

Growing up one of our favorite memories was after our family dinners were done, mom and dad would brew a pot of Chinese tea and we would talk for awhile longer as we savored the end of a day and breathed in the fragrant aroma of jasmine or pungent oolong as our hands were warmed by our teacups. 

 Our conversations were sometimes expansive and sometimes just covered the day’s events. It was through these tea times that our parents life stories emerged - rich in detail, full of love, loss and hope. They intertwined life lessons that they had learned through the years with the sayings of great Chinese philosophers. Perhaps we didn’t remember all the sayings but we will always remember the time that they spent with us every single day. 
Perhaps that in itself is a life lesson - how valuable time is and particularly when it’s freely given with a warm cup of tea. 

Ruth Li-hin Chen Lin Biography – April 5, 1929 – July 22, 2020

Ruth Li-hin Chen Lin passed away peacefully in her home on Staten Island, NY on July 22, 2020. Ruth was the born in the village of Zhang Zhou, China on April 5, 1929 and was the eldest daughter of five children born to Lui Zhou Yang and Ta-Yuan Chen (TY Chen). Growing up, Ruth and her siblings were a rarity in their village in that very few girls, in particular, and boys in general were able to pursue an education beyond elementary school.  She did her schoolwork at night after her chores were done and when she was supposed to be in bed. She recalled many nights under the bedcovers illuminated by a peanut oil lamplight to complete her studies. Ruth was able to complete high school and began her first years of college to pursue a medical degree when civil war broke out and the Communist Revolution took over the country.

Since her father was a prominent general under Chiang Kai Shek who was the leader of the Kuomintang forces that was losing the battle against the Communists, Ruth had to flee from mainland China to Taiwan in the early 1950s.

In Taiwan she continued to complete her education and received a bachelor’s degree as a science teacher from National Taiwan Normal University.  She was a popular high school biology teacher for a number of years in Taipei, Taiwan. Her daughter recalls the menagerie of creatures from school including rabbits to frogs that found a home with them during school break.   Ruth married her husband of 62 years, Fu Hai Lin, in Taiwan until his passing in April 2018. Their first two children, Nancy and Alan were born in Taiwan and three other sons, Boris, Calvin and David, were born in the United States after they emigrated.

Ruth raised her family with creativity and love as she incorporated her skills as an educator and love of science to teach her children as they grew up.  She also was one of the founders and teachers for the Chinese American Club of Staten Island, and guided in the development of an authentic Chinese Scholar Garden on Staten Island that is one of only two in the country. She also worked at the New York State Institute for Basic Research on Staten Island assisting her husband in the laboratory in his pioneer work on the HIV virus.

In her later years she enjoyed gardening, Chinese painting, teaching her children and grandchildren how to cook delicious Chinese food and how to play Chinese checkers strategically like chess. 

She is survived by her five children, her son in-law Clifford Mark Smith of Winchester, MA, daughters-in-law Yvonne Lin of Commack, NY and Courtney Lin of Zionsville, IN and seven grandchildren, Marquessa Kate, Alexander, Brianna, Rebecca, Emily, Anna and Sophie.  She is also survived by her brothers Edward Chen and his wife Rosa from Taipei, Taiwan, Dale Chen and his wife Peggy from Dallas, TX, sisters Audrey Wang and her husband Frank from Atlanta, Georgia, and Fong from Taipei, Taiwan. Ruth was predeceased by her sister Claire Huang and brother Wei-Hsiang

A memorial celebration of Ruth’s life will be offered after the pandemic is over.

For those who wish to offer their thoughts, pictures and condolences to share with the family and to be on the list to be notified in the future of the post pandemic celebration of Ruth can leave their contact information on this site. 

In lieu of flowers - donations can be contributed in Ruth Lin’s name at the following charity: Project Hospitality, Inc., 100 Park Avenue, Staten Island, NY. 10302 
Attn: Joshua Keller
Memo line: Food pantry and soup kitchen services In memory of Ruth Chen Lin.