New London - Henry Tien-k'un Kuo, 84, Professor Emeritus of Chinese at Connecticut College, passed away Aug. 9, 2008.
Born in Hopei Province, Beijing, China on Feb. 29, 1924, Henry graduated from Beijing Normal University, leaving Beijing for Taiwan in 1948, when he was offered a high school teaching position. With the Communist takeover at the end of that year, he was unable to return home and lost contact with his family, whom he would not see again for over 35 years. In Taiwan, Henry taught Chinese to Americans at the U.S. Department of State's Chinese Language School, as well as English to Chinese students.
He met and married wife, Josephine, in Taichung, Taiwan, on March 13, 1958, after a five-year courtship.
In 1961 Henry was invited to the U.S. by the chairman of the Institute of Far Eastern Languages, Yale University, to teach Chinese literature and language. His wife and daughter joined him there in 1963 after being physically separated for over two years. Although accepted to Harvard for graduate studies, Henry chose to teach at Dartmouth College to support his family, and where son, Gary, was born. In 1970 Henry was asked to come to Connecticut College in New London where, as professor and later chairman of the Chinese Department, he remained for 24 years before retiring in 1994. His career also included teaching summers at Washington University, Missouri, and Middlebury College, Vt.
Henry is best remembered by all as a proper gentleman and dignified scholar who loved learning. For him the Chinese department was a family and its students were his "children." Notable publications include "Read Mandarin Books" I and II, "Practical Chinese Conversation", and "Stories for Forty Chinese Proverbs", as well as "Speak Mandarin", which he co-authored. Following retirement, he devoted much of his time to refining his English and Japanese, as well as to his calligraphy. Reserved yet possessing a gentle humor, a man of letters and well versed in classical Chinese, Henry also sang Chinese opera and enjoyed Tai Chi Chuan, talents he rarely displayed. At home he was the appreciative audience in a musical family.
Predeceased by his wife of 34 years, Henry is survived by daughter, Debbie and son, Gary.
As per his request, the family held a private burial on Aug. 16, 2008. A public memorial service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 10:30 a.m. in Harkness Chapel at Connecticut College, New London. The family requests that prayers be sent in lieu of flowers.