The celebration was attended by around 40 family, friends and former colleagues ranging in age from 2 (grand daughter Naomi) to 95 (James Kemper). There were a good number of his former PhD graduate students including Claudia Brown, Janet Baker, Pat Graham, Anyi Pan and Marilyn Gridley. Many others work overseas, a number our retired and other were unable to make it because of conflicts or health issues. My mother's closest friend from grade school in Guangzhou Ruth Wong (retired pathologist) near 90) came from California with her nephew Nick Liang as support. An important artist friend Hong Xian and husband TC Chang (nationally ranked tennis player > age 80) came from Houston. Martin Cheng another important artist friend attended as well. Our father had outlived many of his colleagues.
Prof. Li was a history buff and pleased that his path crisscrossed so many historical events in China. A few years after the fall of the Ching Dynasty, he was born during the chaotic Republican era when his father was the #3 military man (commanding 10000) in Guangdong Province. Most of his schooling took place during WWII. As a high school student, he exited Nanjing a few months before the infamous massacre. To reach his college campus then relocated to Chengdu in Sichuan Province, he had to travel by way of ship to Hainan Island and Hanoi, by rail and truck up the Burmese Road. After the war he journeyed two weeks by boat with Mom to the U.S. to attend graduate school in English, she in Botany. Following the Communist revolution of 1949, he faced the critical decision of whether to return to China. He fortunately, decided to stay in the U.S., and knowing what we now know about the Cultural Revolution, I can imagine how different my life path would have been had he chosen otherwise. He returned China for the first time just after Nixon ‘opened’ it in 1973, and then nearly every year or other year through 2007 when Teri and I took him back to his home village of Chong Hua after a 71 year absence.
Prof. Li was an unsentimental and analytical person, philosophical but not religious. And if he were here today, he would want to know what you are doing and what the latest is in Chinese art and the art history field. His avocation was his vocation and vice versa – even well into his retirement he continued to write down every viewed painting on his omnipresent 4X6 note pad ... I’ve said that if he were stranded on a deserted island, he would ask for his library. I hope there is a Chinese art library, ink paintings and gallery in heaven!
|Curator Janet Baker (also for Marilyn Stokstad)|
|Former Dean Del Shankel|
|Prof. Claudia Brown|
After going around the room with self-introductions, Janet Baker read a passage by Marilyn Stokstad his former Chair who recruited him, Del Shankel his former Dean recounted his important contributions to Kansas University, Claudia Brown placed his accomplishments in the context of the field, and Janet Baker provided a heartfelt view of his effect on her career. I read a statement from Yoshi Shimizu who received his MA under my father before finishing his PhD in Japanese Art and entire teaching career at Princeton.
We then had statements from the family - son Ben, daughter Rachel, husband John, kids Jack and Naomi, and sister Amy and son Daniel (who graduated from KU). Rachel spoke of her memories of him, Ben read a letter of advice his grandfather had written to him. I read the comments below:
|John, Rachel, Naomi, Jack Cullvan, B & Ben Li, Amy & Daniel Lee|
Books, photomontage, and food
Kris Ercums the Asian Art Curator at the Spencer Museum organized a display of many of his published books and catalogs - that were used. It the background I and a daughter of a friend made a continuous photomontage beginning with his young adult life, family, colleagues, artists, books he wrote, and paintings he either researched or collected, accompanied by the Pastoral Symphony by Beethoven. The food was Indian (had to be ethnic) and quite good but my father would probably not have relished the non-Chinese cuisine.
Norman and Helen Gee who looked in on him weekly, took him to appointments, rescued him from falls, fixed the house and cleared his house with me