Sylvia (Shu-Mai) Lu Chow, 94, of La Crosse, died on Monday December 7, 2020 in La Crosse. She was born on November 20, 1926 in Taipei, Taiwan to Yen-nan Lu and Chin Liu. She married Edward P. Chow in 1955 in Taipei, Taiwan.
Born in 1926, Taipei, Taiwan (called Formosa “Beautiful Island” by the Portuguese explorers), our mother Sylvia lost her father to TB as an infant and was raised by her grandfather and step grandmother. Though treated poorly as a girl in a culture that placed more value in boys (sons to continue the family name), she developed and cultivated an upright moral character and integrity of heart, always putting the family first and treating the elders of the family with respect and filial piety.
Sylvia experienced the turmoil and hardship of World War II, of a homeland under harsh Japanese military occupation. Sylvia learned English when her grandfather moved the family to Philippines for a few years. After the war, Sylvia worked as a typist for Jardine Matheson, a prominent British trading house, and worked later for the Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction. She developed and maintained life-long friendships with many of her colleagues from her time there.
In 1955, Sylvia married Ping (Edward) Chow, a young reporter from mainland China, who came to Taiwan to escape the communists in 1949. Together they raised three children, Yen-lu (Yale), Yen-yun (Luna), Yen-chuan (Etuan).
Wanting better education and opportunities for the children, Edward took a job with the U.S. government on Okinawa, Japan, moved the family there in 1969. This was a great sacrifice for Sylvia, to be separated from her beloved homeland, family, relatives, and friends. The family then immigrated to the United States in 1980, moving to Virginia. Through their hard work and many sacrifices, all three children were able to receive a college education: Yale (M.I.T.), Luna (Georgetown University), Etuan (Boston University).
Following the conversion, Baptism, and reception into the Catholic Church of her husband in 2000, Sylvia was baptized and became a Catholic at Easter vigil 2002. Edward passed away in 2006, and Sylvia lived alone in Virginia until 2014, when she moved to La Crosse to be with her daughter. With her daughter, she went to Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe , the Cathedral, and Saint James when able. In 2019, Sylvia moved to a memory care assisted living facility in La Crosse. On November 21st , a day after her 94th birthday, Sylvia was hospitalized due to Covid complications. She was discharged, December 1st, back to her daughter’s home under hospice care. Sylvia passed away a week later peacefully, with the support of family, friends and the graces of the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.
Sylvia was an avid reader, life-long learner, she was a gardener, home-maker, always learning new skills and crafts, such as cake decoration, cooking, ribbon-flower making, even word processing. She was eager to share her knowledge on healthy living and eating habits with her children, relatives and friends. Sylvia taught her children to always respect and value their Chinese cultural heritage, insisted on their learning to read and write the Chinese language and to speak Chinese at home.
For most of her life, Sylvia struggled with the injustices, sufferings, and evils she has experienced in her life and trying to fathom and to reconcile these trials with a just, good and loving God. Towards the end of her life, Sylvia came to accept suffering patiently, as an expression of true love for God and neighbor. Sylvia learned to trust and hope in the eternal happiness of heaven promised by God to those who love Him. She became more and more childlike, always thankful and kind, gentle and sweet, giving everyone a smile when she was unable to give anything else.
She is survived by her daughter Luna F. Chou; two sons Yen-lu (Yee-Ling) and Etuan (Roxana); and her nephew Richard Lu, who is like another son to her.
Sylvia was preceded in death by her husband Edward, brother Louis Lu and her parents.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday December 11, 2020 in Saint James the Less Catholic Church, 1032 Caledonia St., La Crosse, Wis. Rev. James Altman will officiate with burial to be held in Falls Church, Virginia. Family and friends may visit from 10:00 AM until the time of Mass at church on Friday.
Memorials are preferred to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the Catechetical Center, the Institute of Christ the King Seminarian Fund, or the Franciscans of the Immaculate.
Sylvia will be greatly missed.
We rejoice for the blessing of her peaceful and holy death!
We grieve for the sorrow and pain of the loss of her physical and loving motherly presence!
We pray for the eternal rest of her soul!