A Teacher at Heart
If he had not been an engineer for the Washington Group International in the World Trade Center, Ming-Hao Liu would probably have been content teaching children or planning parties. After all, that is precisely what he did during most weekends as the principal of the Livingston Chinese School, near his home in Livingston, N.J.
Last year, Mr. Liu, 41, persuaded four busloads of parents and students to go to Tennessee for a field trip, after emphasizing that the journey, not the destination, mattered most. Seizing the microphone, he encouraged students to get up in the front of the bus and talk in Mandarin about these questions: "Why do you love your parents? What do you want to do for your parents?" recalled his wife, Jiun-Min.
Another time, during a trip back to his native Taiwan, he was planning to return with some gifts for his two young sons. But when he stumbled upon new textbooks for his Chinese school, he stuffed all 150 books into his suitcase. His sons' gifts did not fit. He left them with his mother-in-law. His wife understood. His sons are still learning. "They didn't know why Daddy spent so much time for other people and for the school," Mrs. Liu said. "I tell them: `It's not for himself; it's for other people. He always wants to make things good.' "
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 10, 2001.
Jiun Liu can still picture her husband, Ming-Hao, in every room of their Livingston, N.J., home.
He smiles at her from family photographs and dreams with her as she looks out a window at their half-finished back-yard patio.
"I can still see him all over the house," she said.
Jiun last heard from Ming-Hao, 41, when she called him at his 91st-floor office in the World Trade Center's south tower after the building next to his was attacked. "Then the line just went blank," she said.
Ming-Hao Liu was warm but tough. His wife said he had two passions growing up in Taiwan: first it was rugby, then later, civil engineering.
After his undergraduate study at Cheng-Kung University in Taiwan, he came to the United States in 1985 to pursue a master's in civil engineering at Rutgers University. Except for one year, he worked from his 1987 graduation until Sept. 11 for what is now Washington Group International.
While at the firm, he helped design the monorail at Newark International Airport, as well as bridges around the New York City area and a new airport transportation system for JFK Airport.
His latest project was less sweeping but no less a point of pride for him, said his wife: He had drawn up plans to extend their driveway and enlarge their back-yard deck. For two weeks before the attack, he had hurried home to talk to contractors carrying out his plans.
Profile courtesy of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
Ming-Hao Liu, 41, proud of his own backyard
An experienced engineer, Ming- Hao Liu worked on many big jobs after he came to the United States from Taiwan in 1985, including reconstruction of the Brooklyn- Queens Expressway and planning for the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line.
But redesigning the backyard of his home in Livingston was a project that brought him an equal amount of pride and joy. A new driveway, a patio and deck were all part of the just-completed project.
"It was his last dream," said Sunil Rajani, a resident of North Brunswick and co-worker of Mr. Liu's in New York. "Every day, he talked about the yard. He'd just started thinking about the next phase -- new trees and planters."
Mr. Liu, 41, a senior staff engineer for the Washington International Group, was working on the 91st floor of Two World Trade Center when the building was struck by a hijacked jet Sept. 11. Although other employees of the firm were able to make it to safety, Mr. Liu did not. The family was informed last week by New York City police that his body had been identified.
Mr. Liu's wife, Jiun-Min, said the two were speaking on the phone seconds before the crash abruptly ended their conversation.
Jiun-Min Liu remembered her husband as a caring man, one with an inquisitive mind and leadership qualities. His pursuit of knowledge sometimes led him to stop his car and approach strangers with questions about the landscaping of their property.
"I would warn him about speaking with strangers, but he was warmhearted and made friends very easily," she said.
Natives of China who knew each other on Taiwan, the Lius earned master's degrees at the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University. They married here in 1987. Mr. Liu's degree was in civil engineering; Mrs. Liu's is in statistics.
Mr. Liu was active in both his profession and community. He was treasurer of the Chinese Institute of Engineers in this country and a member of the International Chinese Transportation Professionals Association. He was also chairman and principal of the Livingston Chinese School, organizing trips for pupils and parents alike.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Liu is survived by his parents, Lo-Yao and Jung-Lan Kao Liu of Oakland, Calif.; four sisters, Lucille Pak of Livingston, Betty Chi of Lexington, Mass., and Shirley Fu and Jenny Yao, both of Oakland, Calif.; a brother, Ming-Cheng Liu of Chester; two sons, Allen, 12, and Austin, 7; and 14 nieces and nephews.
A funeral service will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Trinity Covenant Church on Cedar Street in Livingston. The family has decided it will bury Mr. Liu with photos of his reconstructed backyard.
Donations may be sent to the Livingston Chinese School, P.O. Box 179, Livingston, N.J. 07039. They should be sent to the attention of Shianjong Liu or York Tsuo.
Profile by Guy Sterling published in THE STAR-LEDGER.