Grace Hsu Tao
June 23, 1930 – October 1, 2020
Grace was born in Canton, China (now Guangzhou), a city on the South China coast near Hong Kong. She was the youngest child of three to her father Cheng-Yang Hsu, a professor at Lingnan University and mother Grace Chan, a music teacher after whom she was named. Though she was born into an era of civil conflict and growing Japanese aggression and her life was rocked by the untimely death of her mother, she remembered her early childhood as an idyllic time, lived in a grand house on the grounds of the university.
In 1939, the advancing Japanese invasion forced Grace’s family to flee Canton to the relatively safer city of Kunming in western Yunnan province. Though removed from the imminent threat of Japanese ground forces, Kunming, a key transfer point at the end of the Burma Road and a base for the Flying Tigers, remained a target for frequent bombing raids which had Grace and her family running for the shelters or hiding for protection between tombs in a nearby cemetery. The family remained in Kunming for the duration of WW II and several years after but chose to leave for the United States as Communist forces consolidated control over China.
With her father already in America, having secured a teaching position at Cornell University, and her stepmother remaining in China to care for the family’s two younger children, Grace had to make the month long journey from China to the United States alone. In August 1949, she boarded the Army Transport Ship General W. H. Gordon in Hong Kong, as it was embarking on an evacuation run to San Francisco, CA. From there Grace traveled across the USA by train to Ithaca, NY where her father met her and took her to Keuka Park, NY where he had arranged for her to attend nursing school at Keuka College. It was while she was attending Keuka that she met her future husband, Yung Tao, an emigre from Kunming who was attending engineering school at nearby Alfred University.
Grace earned her RN degree from Keuka in 1953 and began her nursing career at Rochester General hospital in Rochester, NY. She and Yung married that same year and for several years after their marriage, they followed educational and work opportunities to far flung cities across the US, having three children along the way. In 1959 they settled in Richardson, TX, where Grace suspended her nursing work to raise their children full time. In 1970, a career opportunity for Yung brought the family to San Diego, CA where Grace resumed her nursing career at a private medical practice. In addition to her professional work, she and Yung worked tirelessly over the subsequent decades to build a successful portfolio of investment properties in the booming San Diego real estate market. She retired in 1990 and maintained a full and active retired life, returning to her lifelong loves of crafts and gardening, cultivating a cactus garden and filling the yard with topiary sculptures. Grace maintained excellent health and abilities throughout her senior years, which elicited frequent compliments such as, “I want to be like you when I’m 90!” During her time in San Diego she became an avid Padres fan and in her later senior years fell in love with Zumba, which she practiced until a few months prior to her death.
Grace is survived by and lives on in the loving memories of her sisters Ruth and Margaret, brother John, sister-in-law Vivien, daughter Janet, son Peter, his wife Jenny and their daughter Aimee, and son Andrew and his wife Jeanne.
Per Grace's wishes, there will be no memorial service. For those who would have wished to send flowers or other tokens of condolence, you may instead make a donation dedicated to her memory to either of the following organizations.
Keuka College Development/Alumni Relations 141 Central Ave Keuka Park, NY 14478 https://www.keuka.edu/giving/give-now (Designate contributions to the Nursing Program)
Juan Carlos Organization P.O. Box 90352 San Diego CA 92169 www.jcorg.org
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Grace Hsu Tao
October 15, 2020
I live in Grace's neighborhood. I'd always admired her topiaries and complimented her on them when walking by her home. She graciously had me come closer for a better viewing. We'd become neighborhood friends and I'd often stop for a chat if she was out when I'd walk by. Years later she showed up in my Zumba Gold class. She was always a joy to talk to before class. She will be missed. I will think of her everyday when I walk by her home.
October 14, 2020
Grace was so sweet and I always enjoyed talking to her every time she came into our office. She had a great sense of humor with an amazing positive attitude. When she was not able to drive any longer, I would pick her up and drive her home from her appointments. We had great conversations. She would always say to me, " I can walk home!" We laughed and I said it was too far. I will miss you Grace.
October 9, 2020
My condolences to all the Tao Family Members, Friends, and Anyone blessed to have known Mrs. Grace Tao. Wonderful Mom, and Grandmother. The Pyramid Top of the Tao Family we know today. Who Passed on her wonderful Family Values. Values Such as Kindness, Love, Consideration for one another, Strength, and Love. Grace Tao leaves behind her legacy. She will truly be missed. Earth has lost one of its kindest souls, but Heaven has another Angel to look down upon and care for Loved Ones and Family. God Bless Grace Tao.
October 9, 2020
Grace lived up to her name. She was full of Grace, Kindness, Patience and Beauty. A true Lady in every sense of the word. Also very Maternal. Every time without fail when I was in her home she would make me tea and give me something to eat. She would sit right near me with her beautiful smile on her face and watch me eat every bite as I raved how delicious it was. I have very fond memories of her captured within my heart. To know Grace was to love her.
David & Andrea Herst
October 4, 2020
Although I only met Grace briefly many years ago, my memory of her is very clear to this day: an elegant, sweet, kind woman who live up to her name.
We are very sorry for your loss. May your many lovely memories of Grace soften the pain. We send our warmest wishes.
--David and Andrea