MEI-FONG (YU) CHENG of North Haven, Connecticut passed away unexpectedly on September 20, 2020. She was born to the prominent Yu family of Xi'an, China in 1939. An auspicious beginning soon developed into an early life of great loss during war and tumultuous times. Having lost her father at a very young age, she left with her mother to Taiwan in 1949. Growing up, she is remembered for her unique singing talent, her quick wit and striking beauty. She attended Tiawan's Teacher's College to pursue her passion for working with children. Shortly after graduation, she met a celebrated young poet, Wen-tao Cheng (penname Zheng Chou-yu) whom she wed in 1962 in Taipei, and later settled in Keelong. While continuing her work as a teacher, she gave birth to a daughter Mei-I (Mei-wa) and a son Chi (Di-wa, Charles).
In 1967, the young family moved to Iowa City, IA where her husband was a Fulbright Scholar and in the International Writers' Program at the University of Iowa. The family soon welcomed daughter Iva (Iwa). The rest of the family became naturalized citizens. The family formed lifelong friendships with some of the most celebrated writers and artists from around the world; friends who fondly recall Mei-fong's self-taught, peerless cooking talent displayed during their countless dinner parties. Many enthusiastically declared her to be the best cook in the world. Friends also often pleaded for the special treat of her exquisite singing talent. University and government officials frequently invited her to sing at major events and venues, including the United Nations and Carnegie Hall.
Later, the family settled in North Haven, CT when Wen-tao accepted a teaching position at Yale University, and Mei-fong took a job in acquisitions at the university's famed Sterling Memorial Library where she was recognized for more than thirty years of exemplary service. For many years following their retirements and until deteriorating health no longer allowed--she accompanied her husband on his many extended stays as a writer-in-residence in various university programs and numerous speaking engagements throughout Europe and Asia.
Her reserve and grace belied a deep intelligence and razor-sharp wit. Family and friends often valued her counsel above all others. Even after years of ravaging illness, her ethereal beauty, elegance and quiet charisma continued to win countless fans among hospital, laboratory and pharmacy doctors and staff, and people encountered in the ordinary course of life. She was and is a source of extreme pride for family and friends; in particular, her husband of fifty eight years. Always elegant, she was often attired in her favorite color of purple. Unfortunately, few recordings of her exceptionally rare singing voice exist; as with her life, the memory of the indescribably beautiful experience lives on in those if us blessed and fortunate enough to have had it. She was most pained by the long separation from the beloved family and friends caused by the Covid crisis during the last months of her life.
She leaves in deepest mourning her husband, Wen-tao (aka Zheng Chou-yu), her daughter Mei-wa (Claude Brouillard) of Farminton, CT, her son Charles of Woodbridge, CT, and daughter Iva if Chicago, IL; her granddaughters Claire Brouillard, Olivia Cheng and Eleanor (Nora) Cheng. She was a most beloved, devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend who will be greatly missed and remembered always. She enjoyed fifty-eight years of marriage to an extraordinary love. Her greatest joy and fulfillment were her three children and her three granddaughters who will forever love her beyond speech or measure.
A wake will be held on Thursday, October 8, 2020 from 5-7 p.m. at the Washington Memorial Funeral Home, 4 Washington Ave., North Haven, Connecticut 06473. A burial service will be held on Friday, October 9, 2020 at 11 a.m. at the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven. www.washingtonmemorialfh.com
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