The Life of Wei Chen – An Inspiration to Many

All who knew Wei Chen, a renowned entrepreneur, aviator, author and visionary, felt his incredible love for life. He stirred a sense of inspiration in many.

Wei lost his earthly life on Thursday, December 20, 2018 at the age of 47. He and three other members of the Sunshine Enterprise, Inc. executive council were returning to Memphis from a business trip when their plane went down shortly after take-off in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wei is survived by his beloved wife of 20 years, Dr. Zhaohui Xu (Isabel); daughters Elisabeth, Stephanie and Sabrina; parents Xianjie Chen and Peiming Li; and younger brother Li Chen.

Wei and Isabel met at a University of Memphis new-student welcome party in 1996. They wed in Changsha, Hunan Province, China on May 20, 1998.

Wei was born and raised in Changsha and moved to the United States in 1996 at the age of 25 to attend graduate school. He earned his International MBA at the University of Memphis in August 1998.

At the young age of 27, against many odds and with no capital, Wei founded Sunshine Enterprise, Inc., a North American distributor of Chinese construction and industrial equipment. As CEO, he grew the company from a one-man operation to 400 employees in less than 10 years.

In 2013, Wei expanded the scope of his business to Los Angeles where he joined forces with an experienced team of bankers and real estate partners to form Sun Capital. As Chairman, Wei and his team were responsible for four significant development projects in L.A.

Wei gave much of his time and resources to organizations throughout Memphis, a community that he loved dearly. He sat on the Greater Memphis Chamber Board, University of Memphis Alumni Association National Alumni Executive Board, University of Memphis Fogelman College Dean’s Advisory Board and the University of Memphis Management Department Advisory Board.

Wei was an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) – a global network of chief executives in more than 130 countries.  Wei was a leader among leaders, serving in many leadership positions coaching and helping CEOs around the world. He was most passionate about serving as the chairman of the Doing Business with China Network for YPO International. This international network won the best of the best award globally in YPO under Wei’s leadership.   Wei’s passion was to build a bridge between YPO and China – bringing together members of YPO from the US and China and encouraging them to partner together. Scott Mordell, CEO of YPO recalls, “Wei was an inspiration for leaders across the world of YPO due to his can-do spirit and optimism.”

Wei loved giving back in a meaningful way, which is why he and Isabel established the Sunshine Scholars scholarship fund for the University of Memphis International MBA program. The fund provides top students with financial support during the 18-month program.

Wei was past board chair of the Memphis in May International Festival. During his time with Memphis in May, he contributed to the concepting of 901Fest – a celebration of the deep creative talent that Memphis has to offer.

Wei was actively involved in the Memphis Chinese community and was co-founder of the Greater Memphis United Chinese Association. Jiada Mo, former mechanical engineering professor at the University of Memphis and Wei’s co-founder of the Greater Memphis United Chinese Association, said, “Wei was a dear friend and pillar of support for our causes and initiatives. His work ethic, intelligence and compassion for those around him made him a great role model for the Memphis Chinese community.”

Wei was known for having boundless energy and courage. Just four years after earning his pilot’s license in 2007, Wei became the first Chinese citizen to fly a single-engine airplane around the world. This brave flight raised awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a cause close to Wei’s heart. This historic flight also marked the first single-engine airplane landing at Beijing Capital International Airport and the first fly-around-the-world trip across China restricted airspace, which remarkably introduced private aviation to China. The experience led Wei to write “Around the World in 69 Days” as well as the Chinese version of the same book titled “80,000 Miles Above the Clouds.”

Wei was a founding partner of Sky Aviation, a Los Angeles based private jet aviation company. He was a consummate aviator, having piloted aircraft in 49 of the 50 United States, as well as all seven continents. As an ATP-rated pilot with well over 2,000 flight hours, Wei pursued additional ratings and certificates few outside the military had attained.

True to his loving, courageous spirit, an eyewitness who saw Wei’s troubled flight in Atlanta on December 20 recounted that Wei visibly did everything he could to avoid hitting the many homes in the area where the plane’s descent was taking place. Wei landed the plane in the only clearing available, successfully preventing further injury and damage in the heavily residential area.

Wei will perhaps be best remembered for his zeal and fervor – in business and in life. Many family members, friends and colleagues have heard him ask: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” This simple question, introduced to Wei by motivational speaker Dr. Robert Schuller, will remain symbolic of Wei’s passion for life’s experiences. Wei was also fond of sharing another favorite quote, by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

- Source: Memorial Park Funeral and Cemetery

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陈玮,1971年生,湖南人,明德中学、中南大学铁道学院毕业。1995年去美国孟菲斯大学留学,取得MBA,并在孟菲斯创办了商翔实业公司,现任该公司董事长、执行总裁和大都市银行董事及孟菲斯市长的顾问。

陈玮成为中国环球飞行第一人,2011年5月22日他用69天,驾驶法国1991年生产的SocataTBM700单引擎螺旋桨飞机做环球飞行。他从孟菲斯出发,往东,经欧洲、中东、中国等21个国家和地区,经停40个城市,回到孟菲斯。行程4万公里,预计于7月29日结束飞行。该次飞行令他成为第一次飞越中国领空的国际环球飞行人,也使他成为“中国环球飞行第一人”。陈玮用这次飞行为美国著名儿童医院孟菲斯圣强德筹集25万美元的善款。

1998年8月获得孟菲斯大学MBA学位以后,陈玮成立了商翔实业有限公司为公司首席执行官,在不到10年的时间里,商翔从一个初创公司成长为在五个城市拥有400多名员工的企业。公司的发展全靠自身有机增长。一直以来,陈玮先生不仅对公司日常管理亲历亲为,并且集中制定了令公司迅速发展的战略计划。至今总部仍设在孟菲斯的商翔实业在美国拥有四个物流仓储中心及在中国的两个生产基地。

2006年,陈玮先生被田纳西商业杂志评选为年度最佳经理人;2007年荣获孟菲斯商业周刊颁发的年度经理人总裁奖;2008年陈玮先生荣获孟菲斯大学商学院颁发的年度实业家奖及40名40岁以下杰出青年奖。同时,商翔实业是2005年田纳西州发展最迅猛的前50强企业,2007年被INC杂志评选为全美发展最快的企业之一。

同时,陈玮也是青年总裁组织(YPO)及孟菲斯经济学家俱乐部的会员。他同时是孟菲斯大学商学院顾问董事,校友会董事和大都市银行的股东及董事,及孟菲斯大学国际MBA俱乐部和大孟菲斯华人联合会委员会董事成员。

田纳西华人世界 田纳西新闻记者天翊 华牧 华悦 联合报道

2018年12月20日 23:0