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University mourns death of former faculty member Julia Lin

Mother of artist Maya Lin moved to Athens in 1959


Julia Chang Lin, a scholar of Chinese literature who brought a forgotten generation of women poets in China and a new generation of post-war Chinese women poets to a western audience, died on
Thursday, Aug. 1, of complications from neuroendocrine cancer in New York. She was 85.

Lin, the daughter of Tsang Foh-Sing and Sung Zong-Cui, was born Ming-hui Tsang in Shanghai on May 4, 1928. She attended St. Mary's Hall School for Girls and St. John's University in Shanghai.

Lin graduated from Smith College in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in English. She also earned a master's degree in English and a doctorate in Chinese Language and Literature from the University of Washington in 1952 and 1965, respectively.

At Washington, Lin developed her skills as a writer and translator of poetry. She spoke Mandarin, Shanghainese, English, Cantonese, French, Fukienese (her husband's native tongue) and a bit of Japanese.

She met her husband, Henry Huan Lin, at Washington. The couple moved to Athens, Ohio, in 1959 where Henry Lin started the ceramics program and later became dean of the Fine Arts College at Ohio University. Julia Lin became a professor of English at OHIO.

In the classroom, Julia Lin made groundbreaking contributions to the field of modern and contemporary Chinese poetry. She also helped inaugurate Chinese language courses.

After retiring from OHIO in 1998, she continued to champion the works of women writers in China. Her four books have been influential in bringing recognition and appreciation of Chinese women poets from mainland China and Taiwan. She moved to Pennswood Village in Newtown, Pa., in 2004.

Julia Lin was preceded in death by her husband in 1989 and her brother Ke-Yong in 2010. She was working on her autobiography when she died. 

She is survived by her daughter Maya, the artist who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and Ohio University's Bicentennial Park, and her son Tan, a poet and English professor. She also left a brother Ke-Heng of Beijing, China; a step-sister Yining Zhang of Lawrenceville, N.J.; and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held for Julia Lin at Pennswood Village in Newtown, Pa., at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.

Donations in her honor can be made to the Henry and Julia Lin Scholarship Fund. Mail checks to the Ohio University Foundation, PO Box 869, Athens, OH 45701