A Memoir by AAPAAN Board Chairman James Tsai, Brother of Jack T. Chen
My family has strong ties to the University. I am one of four siblings, three of whom attended U.Va. The bucolic mountains and slow pace of the Blue Ridge have left deep impressions on who I am today. My younger brother, Jack T. Chen, loved the University. He passed away in a car accident in his third year in November 2002. He was in the Engineering School and was fascinated with his study of electrical engineering and his minor in biomedical engineering.
His friends recall him with fondness, telling me stories of his generosity, the sense of fun and gentleness that he showed to everyone. He was active in his Asian fraternity, Lambda Phi Epsilon, his Bible study group, and the University community at large. His death was a tragic loss to not only his family, but to the world he left behind.
Jack’s family and AAPAAN have worked together to memorialize Jack by providing financial support for Asian American students or students interested in Asian American issues. The scholarship committee would have as its guide the following description, reminiscent of Jack:
Someone who has a passion for giving, who would meet the inevitable hurdles head on, who really understands and appreciates the “little things” in life – someone who can continue the never-finished work that Jack was intended to do.
Jack worked hard but still had time to listen to his friends and engage in some of his favorite pastimes. He liked going to the gym – “to get big,” as he always said with a grin. He learned to play the guitar on his own, particularly enjoying the music of the praise groups to which he belonged. He was spiritual and sought understanding with God on his own, but he never was disdainful of other backgrounds and always maintained respect and a willingness to listen and understand.