Social worker remembered for work in Chinese community

A memorial for Shu-Chung Shen took place April 7 at China Pearl, with more than 40 individuals gathering.

A memorial for Shu-Chung Shen took place April 7 at China Pearl. (Image courtesy of Ling-Mei Wong.)

Shen served in state government from 1985 to 2008, when he retired. During his 23 years of service, he worked for the Department of Unemployment Assistance and for JobNet One Stop Career Center. He passed away Nov. 8, 2016, in Seattle at age 79.

“Shu-Chung was a fine leader,” said Rosemary Alexander, workforce development manager at the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Department of Career Services. She worked with Shen for 11 years at JobNet, which closed in 2015. “He was absolutely wonderful, with so much energy, knowledge and compassion.”

Shen helped process unemployment insurance claims for Chinese workers, aided by his fluency in Chinese dialects. Alexander recalled how he would skip lunch to help his clients, often working late. Despite being a professor in China, Shen was humble about his brilliance.

Shen’s wife Yu Shu Du and daughters Lu and Tueng attended the memorial. Lu Shen said, “All I can do in life is be half the person he was.”

Asian American Civic Association social worker Melody Tsang said, “Mr. Shen taught me about unemployment benefits with great patience and clarity. He truly had a heart for others.”

Shu-chung Shen was born July 26, 1937 in Changsha, China. He studied biology at Beijing University and taught at Shanxi University for 20 years. As a scholar and banker’s son, Shen suffered during the Cultural Revolution. Shen came to Boston in 1980, reuniting with his mother Tong Jun Wong. He worked as a bus boy to improve his spoken English and became a social worker in 1985. He retired in 2008 and moved to Seattle in 2010 to be closer to his daughter Tueng, a professor of ophthalmology, bioengineering and global health at the University of Washington. His daughter Lu lives in Manila, the Philippines. Shen’s love for botany came full circle in retirement, as he made ceramic flowers in pottery classes.

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About Ling-Mei Wong 黃靈美

Editor of the Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England

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