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Marcelina Lim Du


1913 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Marcelina Lim Du Obituary
Marcelina Lim Du

After more than a century of graceful and courageous living, Marcelina Lim Du passed away peacefully in her sleep in the early morning hours of February 27, 2014.

She was born on August 9, 1913 in Manila, Philippines. The third of 12 children (only seven survived to adulthood), she was a precocious child and her father's favorite daughter. At an early age, she excelled in English and Math, and worked as a bookkeeper and translator for her father's pearl and abalone business.

At 17, Marcelina persuaded her father to let her study abroad at Lingnan University in Canton, Kwangtung Province, China. With dreams of becoming a doctor like her older brother Luis, she sailed to Canton aboard a luxury liner with her best friend. Marcelina met her future husband, Du Boon Chay at a friend's wedding in Shanghai. Decades later, she would recall how dashing he looked in his suit that day.

Political unrest and the onset of World War II drew them back from China to Manila. At her father's behest, Marcelina finished college at the University of the Philippines, studying Pharmacy instead of Medicine - a degree that was faster to obtain, and also considered more appropriate for women. She married her husband in the Philippines, and gave birth to eight children. One died of malnutrition as an infant under the care of nuns during the Japanese occupation.

To help support her family, she went on to teach math and Chinese literature for 25 years at Manila's St. Stephen's High School. Despite the many hardships Marcelina endured, she never succumbed to bitterness. She helped all seven of her children graduate from college, including three who went on to be engineers and one who became a doctor. The achievements of her children filled her with great pride.

She immigrated to the U.S. in 1968, following her two Boeing engineer sons to the Pacific Northwest. Her husband died in 1976. In Seattle, she taught Chinese cooking classes at the UW extension school, and practiced Ikebana, the Japanese art of floral arrangement. A member of the Sogetsu school, she travelled to Japan to showcase her beautiful creations. A polyglot, she spoke English, Tagalog, and three dialects of Chinese fluently.

For decades, she was a devoted parishioner of the Evangelical Chinese Church in Ballard. Although she had grown feeble in her final months, she still managed to attend service on the Sunday before she died, much to the delight of the congregation.

She reveled in the divine beauty of flowers, the accomplishments and companionship of her family, mahjong games with friends, and getting dressed up for special occasions. Until the very end, she was the life of the party, and her birthday celebrations grew to gather more than 150 of her friends and relatives each year, all dressed in red for good luck. She touched everyone she met with her grace, wit, and persevering spirit.

She is survived her brother and his spouse, Dr. Frederick Lim and Anita Lim of Flint, Michigan; six children and their spouses: Dr. Edward Du of Auburn, Elbert and Linda Du of Whidbey Island, Edwin and Pick-Sun Du of Bellevue, Emily Mattson of Seattle, Johnny and Elisa Du of Kirkland, and Esther Du Graf and William Graf of Seattle; 15 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. Her son Ernest Du passed away in 2002. Her funeral service will take place at the Sunset Hills Memorial Park & Funeral Home in Bellevue on Sat., March 8, 2014 at 12:00 noon.
Published in The Seattle Times from Mar. 7 to Mar. 8, 2014
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