Kindness to a Stranger
Jean Liu met Michael Liming Gu a few days after arriving in New York from Shanghai. It was her first time in the United States, and she did not know a soul. She was introduced to him at a party by friends of friends of people she knew in China.
"It turned out we both came from China, from Shanghai," she said. "He said it was hard for him when he initially came, too."
Both were graduate students. She lived in Manhattan and went to Columbia, and he lived in New Jersey and went to Stevens Institute of Technology. They phoned each other in the evening, and he helped to unravel the chaos of New York for her. When they could find time, he drove in and took her to Chinatown, guiding her to the best and most authentic restaurants.
Four or five years later, they bought a house in Piscataway, N.J., married and moved in. He filled the basement with several linked computers. "He was always testing new computers," Mrs. Gu said. "He has to keep up with new things coming out."
The night before he died, Mr. Gu said that it was time to teach Alan, their 2-year-old, to play computer games. "But I have no clue about computers," she said. "He was the one who really liked them."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on May 5, 2002.