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Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home

11800 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD

OBITUARY

Ying Chih Lee Chen

August 7, 1929September 3, 2019
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YING CHIH CHEN

Ying Chih Chen, loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, died on September 3, 2019 at the age of 90. She was born in Manchuria, China and immigrated to the United States in 1967. She taught at the United States Department of State for forty years, retiring in 2008. She was predeceased by her loving husband, Heng Li Chen. She is survived by her three sons, Thomas, Jerry, and Kenneth; 10 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. The funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 19, 2019 visitation at 10 a.m. and service at 11 a.m. at Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home, 11800 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD, 20904. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice of Charles County, MD.

Published in The Washington Post on Sept. 15, 2019

  • FAMILY

  • Hung Li Chen, Husband (deceased)
  • Yu Kuai Lee, Father (deceased)
  • Hu Sher He, Mother (deceased)
  • Thomas Chen, Son
  • Jerry Chen, Son
  • Kenneth Chen, Son
  • Ying Chih is also survived by ten grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, three brothers and three sisters.

Services

19 September

Gathering

10:00 am - 11:00 am

Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home

11800 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland 20904

19 September

Memorial Service

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home

11800 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland 20904

Memories

Ying Chih Lee Chen

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Edward Loo

September 16, 2019

Chen Taitai had an incredible force of personality that left a vivid impression on me, even after more than 30 years. She was one of my Chinese language teachers when I was just starting in the Foreign Service. May she rest in peace.

Julia Tang Peters

September 16, 2019

She was to me Chen Mama, who was truly the best at making Chinese dishes and who spoke the most precise mandarin of anyone my family ever knew. Chen Mama had a face that always had the hint of a smile that was in waiting to be a full smile, which drew people to her.

I was fortunate to have dined at her table. Chen Mama made spring rolls by first making the wrapper from scratch, something no one does. Her food was better than any restaurant. No wonder that her sons had a lifetime love for Chinese food.

Her Chinese was more beautiful to hear than just calling it Mandarin, it was "Beijing hua," which has a very special eloquence and enunciation. It was no surprise that she was a favored teacher of Chinese at the State Department.

Her devotion to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren made her the matriarch that everyone looked to as the center of gravity for the family.

Chen Mama was one of my important connections with my Chinese heritage. She, and my parents, lived through wartime China and lived a life of resilience and strength.

Chen Mama made me proud to be Chinese. I was fortunate to have known her since I was 14 years old.

Rest in peace, Chen Mama.

Ashley Chen

September 16, 2019

My great grandmother was admired by many for her cooking but, also for her compassionate loving heart. Her generosity knew no bounds, her door was always open for those she cared for. I believe in her own way she was able to show all of us how important we all were to her. We may no longer see her but we’ll always have these special moments we shared with her. I am so honored to call her my great grandmother, having the privilege of loving someone as remarkable as her. We keep her in our mind and hearts, where her memory will live on for as long as we do.

King Ming and Susan Lee

September 15, 2019

Mrs Chen knew culinaria is about more than just fine food. Hugs to the fine Chen family.

Keith Tung

September 12, 2019

By the late 1980, I met Mrs. Ying-Chih Chen, also known as Chen Tai-Tai/陈老师 at FSI since she was one of the senior Chinese Language Instructors in the Chinese Deportment. When I was rookie in the school, she taught me how to use the teaching materials patiently. In the school everybody greatly appreciated her marvelous sense of humor and her amazing cooking that we enjoyed very much.

That time I was alone and she took care of me like mother, whenever she cooked something, she always gave me a big portion in the morning.

Chen Tai-Tai(陈老师), we miss you dearly and all these wonderful memories will stay with us as long as we live.

Wise you 一路走好。

frank & terry kong

September 10, 2019

Dear Kenny and Sharley and family and friends,

Death leaves a heartache
no one can heal
Love leaves a memory
no one can steal

Sending hugs and prayers your way
to you and your family..
Our deepest sympathies on the loss of your Mom.

Neil Kubler

September 10, 2019

Chen Taitai, a "star" among the Chinese language faculty at FSI/Washington, was a warm, lively, and humorous woman who was always very kind to me and my family. She was also a wonderful cook. We shall never forget her many kindnesses; for example, when our son was born in 1988, Chen Taitai went to the trouble of making traditional Chinese medicinal soup for my wife, who was recovering after a Caesarian delivery.

Doris Chin

September 5, 2019

I will always remember the time when it was her granddaughter's birthday and she not only took the birthday girl to the toy store to choose a gift but also took my daughter and let her choose something. We still have GoGo My Walking Pup. I will always remember her kindness and generosity and the love she shared towards both family and friends. She was a fabulous cook who often made dishes at family gatherings that only she could master. She will be greatly missed.

Biography

Ying Chih Lee Chen was born in Manchuria, China on August 7, 1929 to parents Lee Yu Kuai and Lee Hu Sher. Her family moved to the city of Pusan, Korea when she was nine years old, due to the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Her father passed away when she was thirteen years old. As a young girl, Ying Chih taught Japanese soldiers in Korea how to speak the Mandarin language because she spoke with a Pekingese accent, which is considered the prestigious form of the dialect.

When she was twenty, Ying Chih met Heng Li Chen, a newly arrived diplomat from the Republic of China, at his welcome party in Pusan. They married on September 20, 1949. Shortly after the start of the Korean War in June 1950, Heng Li sent Ying Chih to live in Japan when she was pregnant with her first child. She had just one change of clothes and “thirty dollars” when she boarded the crowded boat taking her to Fukuoka, Japan, while Heng Li stayed in Pusan to handle war affairs. Heng Li transferred to Japan after the Korean War and they spent the next decade living in the cities of Tokyo, Nagasaki and Osaka.

In 1964, Heng Li accepted the position of Minister to the Ambassador for the Republic of China’s embassy in the country of Liberia, Africa. They spent two years in Africa before transferring to Washington, D.C. in 1966. Though Ying Chih had little college education, she spoke Mandarin with the Pekingese accent, and began her career working at the United States Department of State in D.C. in 1967, teaching thousands of students over the course of forty years how to properly speak Mandarin. She retired in 2008 at the age of eighty.

Ying Chih made a profound impact on those who were privileged to have been a part of her life. Her kindness, love and generosity will not be forgotten. She loved to cook and she loved to make people happy, a perfect combination, for she often made delicious food to give to her friends and family. Ying Chih loved mahjong, and she went to weekly games for many years, playing with a close circle of friends. She is survived by three brothers, three sisters, three sons, ten grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.