Wen-Hsiang Chai Scholarship Fund
This endowment honors the memory of Lucia Yu’s father, Wen-Hsiang Chai, who served as governor of Liao-Ning Province in Northeast China in the late 1920s. He was born in 1876 during the Qing Dynasty in Kirin (Jilin) province which is in Northeast China.
Wen-Hsiang Chai came from a family of modest means. His father was a leather trader and a farmer. He was educated in Kirin province and dedicated himself to diligent study. His efforts were rewarded when he received the highest score on the Kirin province Civil Service Exam which earned him the coveted title of Superior Scholar. From then on, the family prospered. Because of his outstanding performance on this exam, he was appointed to various government posts. He became the mayor of a city. Then the Qing Dynasty was overthrown and Dr. Sun Yat-sen became the first president of the Republic of China. Wen-Hsiang Chai was chosen as a Senator in the new Parliament, though China’s attempt at democracy was short-lived (1911-1913). Following this, Chai served as head of the Salt Revenue Commission for all three provinces in Northeast China. This was an official position that oversaw the production and distribution of salt. At that time, most Salt Commissioners would use their position to become quite wealthy by taking bribes from merchants. However, Wen-Hsiang Chai was a model of integrity and honesty, refusing to take bribes or have dishonest dealings in an era when corruption was rampant among government officials.
After serving as Salt Commissioner, Wen-Hsiang Chai became governor of Liao-Ning Province. He retired a year or two before the Japanese occupied Northeast China in 1931. Because of the Japanese invasion of Northeast China, he moved his family to Beijing. When the Japanese invaded Northern China in 1937, he took his family to the French and British concessions in Tianjin. After Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, there was no longer any foreign protection in China, and all of Northern China was under Japanese rule.
After World War II ended in 1945, his daughter, Lucia Yu, came to the United States to pursue graduate studies in accounting at the University of Iowa. She intended to return in two years, but the Communists took over China in 1949 and she decided not to return. Wen-Hsiang Chai died in 1950 at the age of 73. After Iowa, his daughter, Lucia Yu, lived in New York, Michigan, Idaho, and Maine before moving with her family to Gainesville, Florida, in 1967. She taught accounting for four years at the University of Florida, and served as Assistant Dean of Budget and Planning in the UF Warrington College of Business. She subsequently started her own practice as the first woman CPA in Gainesville.
During his lifetime, Wen-Hsiang Chai promoted education and learning for people of all ages and backgrounds. To honor his dedication, Lucia Yu She established this scholarship fund in memory of her father to support student scholarships.