The self-starter

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Dear Relatives and Friends of Jim Yao:

Please allow me to share some thoughts on my brother-in-law, Jim.

Dr. James T. P. Yao was a scholar, educator, civil engineer among many other hats he wore. He was definitely a self-starter. He knew what he wanted in life and went after his goal skillfully with a passion. Let me illustrate with an example.

Jim and I first met on the Champaign-Urbana campus at the University of Illinois in 1955 - - more than half a century ago. We were both students there then. He was two years ahead of me. We met in some social function of the Chinese Students Club. I remember that he came to me and introduced himself. We hit it off like long lost friends from the start. From then on we would often “hang out” together in our leisure time. He even invited me to have dinner with him in his apartment. (I might add that he was a good cook.) Later, he asked me to play basketball with him. Over time we became good friends.

Not long after Jim befriended me, I began to notice that Jim asked me a lot of questions about my sister, Anna, who was also a student at Illinois. He asked about her likes and dislikes, and her personal life. By then, I realized that Jim had more than one reason to be friendly to me. At that time there were about two hundred Chinese students on Illinois campus - - mostly boys, not many girls. My sister, Anna, stood out as one of the most beautiful Chinese coeds. As you might expect, she was the focus of attention of many suitors. I won’t go into details here.

In spite of the odds, Jim pursued Anna relentlessly over several years. To make a long story short, Jim succeeded in achieving his goal of winning over Anna’s heart. Thus, on June 14, 1958, Jim and Anna got married. I had the honor of “giving” Anna to Jim in marriage in a beautiful church wedding. Walking down the aisle with Anna in my arm and presenting her to Jim was truly one of best things I have done in my life. Jim and Anna were happily married for 48 years, until she passed away in 2006.

By God’s grace, Jim was baptized last year, and is enjoying eternal bliss with Anna in heaven.

I shall miss my friend and brother-in-law, Jim Yao.

With loving memories of Jim and Anna,

Roberto (and Mei) Lee