Little Brother George Has Gone Ahead

Tribute to My Lilbro George Stephan Hsu, COL
(17 May 1943 – 20 Sep 2015)

George Hsu

Lydia and George Hsu

Kite flying with Lydia

George Hsu was many things to many people. He was and remains first of all father, husband, brother, cousin, uncle, father-in-law and grandpa to his large, far-flung family now gathered at Elgin in profound shock and grief. There was for many days perhaps also some defiance, as many of us found it hard to accept the fact that George has actually been wrenched away from us with such cruel suddenness. For 72 years, 4 months and 3 days, George had lived a full, creative and productive life, bringing joy, comfort and a sense of wellbeing to all those who have known him.
George Super DadGeorge's horse
Walking Jen down the aisle

George walks Jen down the aisle.

It was to be a happy, honeymoon-like trip for Kathy and sister Joyce Bless, this time to be just with their husbands George and Rick to enjoy a romantic visit to Key West Florida in a well deserved celebration of themselves, and of staying together as couple. But on Sunday the 20th September, when they were snorkeling some ways off Key West in eight feet of water watching stunning sea creatures and corals, God gently and silently scooped George up to Heaven. As if lost in a starless night sky, the world darkened around George’s beam, becoming suddenly pitch black for everyone else.
Root hunting with the Hsu clan
Stunned as if hit by a huge lightning thunderbolt, all became speechless, uncomprehending. People vehemently refused to accept the idea that they no longer have George on call. For here on earth still, each one of us in his or her own way had taken for granted that we would meet and hug and joke and laugh together, sharing our love for many, many long years to come. Dearest God in Heaven, forgive us, we are simply not ready to accept this loss. But we do thank Thee for sparing our George the agony of protracted hospitalization. He left earth during one of the happiest times of his life. Bless you, Happy Georgie, you lucky lad.
Doc's Saloon Menu
To myriad others beyond the Hsu clan, George was their best friend, college schoolmate, football team quarterback or tailback, drinking buddy, fellow prankster, chief story teller, unbeatable mechanic, brilliant physician, respected counselor, most trusted and beloved Captain – Colonel, and Community Leader. No one was ready to let him go, as if one had any say in the matter. Dear God, help us heal.

Our early family history

George as a young manWhen he was six, Mother took us three children to America away from China’s Civil War. There we lived with the large and loving family of Stephan Kuttner, Father’s best friend during their Jurisprudence School years in Berlin in the late 1920s. The Hsu children were quickly assimilated into the family, becoming part of the dinner table that pivotal year (1949-1950), where children of the two families fell secretly in love unbeknownst to one another.

When he was twelve, he became a step-uncle to my two young step-sons boys and told them, “Don’t be afraid of your step-mother. She’s only my sister. You don’t have to eat the spinach if you don’t like it.” On our trip to Europe when my baby daughter was found dead in the crib high up in the Alps, it was little George who bent over his infant niece, trying to breathe air into her lifeless body, tears streaming down his agonized face without letup. That was his first encounter with the profound urge to heal, to save, to protect life.

A most caring and insightful gentle man

Nearly thirty years later, in order to protect his own adopted and natural children in a State without public health care, he decided during an outbreak of equine encephalitis in the area, to study Medicine and become a local doctor. Almost forty years old, George was able to enter medical school on an Army grant, becoming the oldest student around.

But his doctor-teachers soon discovered that this Haverford mechanics graduate who designed car-crunching machines for the wide-open countryside, who turned Honda Preludes into super racing cars, who alone appeared in the OR with black fingernails, etc. turned out to be the only man in the cardiac ward to remain cool and calm when they discovered that the bulky pacemaker they were placing in the patient’s gaping cavity was dysfunctional. Sweat poured down the face of doctors and nurses alike as time ticked loudly away.

“Anyone have a screw-driver?” finally came George’s soft voice. And in no time the pacemaker too, began to tick away, in the fortunate patient’s chest. From the beginning, George had excelled at tying good knots with hand in pocket. But when his supervisor suggested he become a heart surgeon, George remarked, “That is a Craft. I wish to become a GP (General Practitioner) for that, Sir, is an Art.”

Eventually George became the most widely respected GP around, and people would drive hundreds of miles to get the opinion of Dr. Hsu. George dedicated his life and skills to medicine out of love of his fellow beings. He refused to prescribe unnecessary medication or order costly lab tests and exams for the many patients in his hard-working but also hard up farming community.
farming community with George
But this was to run squarely against vested interest, not only of private physicians, but of the State whose Board of Medical Examiners comprised of doctors with vested interests. A small group of Bismarck doctors had invested in just such an expensive lab-test service center, and in time came to resent the fact that they were missing out on George’s many patients who did not go for their costly tests and scans. Together they sued the country doctor George Hsu, for “Inappropriate Care” that is, for not doing everything possible for his patients. Our Family had thought nothing of the matter, since each of the city plaintiffs had serious lawsuits against them from mistreated patients whereas George had not a single complaint by any patient in all his more-than-twenty-years’ practice.

But to our dismay, the State of North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners comprising these disgruntled physician-investors, together with the Surgeon General and the State Supreme Court, seemed adamant that Dr Hsu’s Medical License be revoked, and the citizens of North Dakota deprived forever of their favorite country doctor. George’s patients were in shock, and in different areas held fund-raisers to hire a lawyer for George. They wrote to the government and to the newspapers – but all to no avail.

When asked once, “Without taking an MRI, how can you tell if your patient is bleeding in the brain or not?” he replied, “I have known my patients for three generations. You can tell simply by watching them walk.” To George, his patients were like his children. He lived to protect them, to heal them and nurture them, and to share his life and his joy with them. When a patient once let on that he no longer had a particular type of harvester, George drove his own over to that farmer’s ranch the next day. The startled patient found his favorite doc driving up and down in the morning sun working his fields, finishing all his chores by noon. George’s positive, giving nature and contagious good humor brought out the best in all those he met. the best in humanity, and that is Love. Love radiates outward; it is sharing in compassion.
Family at George's funeral
At the funeral, one of George’s nurse practitioners came up the pulpit and told us she had been working with all kinds of doctors on all kinds of jobs for over thirty years. “Never in my entire career have I ever met a doctor who knew more about medicine than George. George cared more for his patients, had such common sense when treating illnesses and wounds. No one was more skilled in diagnostics. He was simply one of a kind, a brilliant, unique man all around. He will be sorely missed.” The legendary Doc Hsu lived in a decaying society during a decadent age. His memorable medical career was sabotaged out of envy and greed, but continues to shine as a beacon of hope for all his patients, his friends and for young medics as an exemplar for the coming Age.
George with friends
George’s idea of a good life was to be able to devote as much time as possible to the people and activities he loved, in as creative and productive a mode as possible. First came the idea of farming. Farming land that the US Government paid farmers to let lie fallow. He amassed 1500 acres in North Dakota, mostly raising hay for horses and beef cattle. He also planted delicious chokecherries, buffalo berries, plums and currants that he would brew into a heavenly wine. To be sure, he grew the shrubs not only as windbreak, but in particular to entice the scrumptious North Dakota pheasants and grouse who would come to fatten themselves in Autumn, and adorn his dinner table in Winter.

On the farm, George did everything from plowing, sowing to harvesting, cutting and bailing, he was also a masterful fence-builder, agile horse-rider able to make his mount shimmy straight down the vertical side of a steep mountain. All the animals loved him, as do his children, making each their happy sounds whenever he’d come near. George was one of the very few people around who could fix tractors, twenty-ton trucks, highway line-painting machines, racing cars, sowing machines, snow-blowers, food blenders or pacemakers but also produces hay-bales on even square fields, keeps his cattle immunized and healthy, hand-delivering their calves. George was cheerful and helpful to anyone who ever came in need of healing, fixing, repairing, lending or feeding, and became a great friend to the farming families as well as the Sioux Indians miles around. If this sounds too good to be true, George indeed was to all of us not only incredible, but indispensable. He loved being admired – but admiring George was always a natural result of knowing him.

George met Kathy in Medical School when they became a valued team, especially in national emergencies. During the Gulf War when George was called to active duty for the second time after Viet Nam, now to the Middle East, Kathy was summoned as well as Army Nurse, and they left their eight children, their fields and cattle behind in Elgin to run the medical unit in what we the family believed was a chemical warfare zone. Our aged parents from urban Washington DC came over in their high seventies to look after George and Kathy’s virtual orphans, ready to remain indefinitely should the field doctor-and-nurse fail to come back. But these Medics eventually returned home to a Hero’s welcome when all Elgin and neighboring towns came out with flowers and flying banners, creating a memorable day near and far.

George PensierosoAs an army doctor in mobile hospital under extreme conditions, or from his quiet clinic in Elgin, North Dakota, George’s priority was always to do the job well. He didn’t care too much for all the formalities and protocol that calcify around institutions as they age, making it hard to distinguish what is more important: to heal or bandage the patient, or to fill out the form. George invariable chose the former, often to the neglect of the latter. For this neglect he was driven out of the medical profession by his peers who felt that failing to fill out all forms was more of a detriment than George’s unusual ability to heal, his pure record of complete trust from all his patients, some who had asked not to be put on tubes and costly equipment. They would rather North Dakota be deprived of one of their best physicians, in order to ensure everyone towed the line and filled out all formal requirements purely administrative in nature.

But this only freed George to turn his attention to his other beloved activities, Mechanics. Together with son Stevie a company was formed to do road-striping, providing the white, yellow, red, solid and broken lines we see on the highways – a rather lucrative job under Union Pay. This does not deprive any patient of their wherewithal, but brought in surprising income, and challenged George’s ingenuity to his great delight. He designed and put together from spare parts by hand, an entire truck-cum-device that mixed and spread paint on the road, and so began happy outdoor days working together with his beloved family. When the State approached him saying they would give him back his license to practice medicine provided he signed a paper admitting to “inadequate care of his patients” and/or paid the Board a fee of $50,000, George gave his wry smile and declined. He refused to cooperate with a world that cared more for protocol than for the practice of medicine.

George did not consider himself to have lost any self, aside from his Colonel’s uniform, to be shifting from a white gown to the proverbial blue collar – because to him all jobs carried out with his whole heart and mind bring satisfaction and joy. And the blue collar he had come to know harbored less hypocrisy or hidden greed. In time he opened up Doc’s Saloon in Glen Ullen that served all his favorite foods and drinks, delighting one and all. When we entered the place the local people immediately recognized us as George’s family; staff from Chef to waitresses came to us to hug us, one after the other each weeping tears of deep personal loss. George had given them the sense of self-worth, had appreciated and admired each of them for their special contributions. Their love for George was no less than that of nurse practitioners.

For George, no one was ever unimportant. He never entertained sentiments like, “Wait, I have something more urgent to do first.” He helped his kids with home-work, his grandchildren with kite-flying or buggy rides. He adopted and reared the children born to his wives from their former marriages, never saying to any child, “You are not of my blood. You are not my family.” He adopted them all, giving them the Hsu name, and cared for them with the same love and pride with which he reared all his own progeny. Later he took in our mother and step-father, caring them for years through their dying days. He took in and gave employment to his nephew, offered permanent shelter to his oldest retired sister and opened his home to his nieces each time any should face homelessness. George helped all who came to him, laughingly solving problems academic, chemical, emotional, financial, mechanical, medical, military or psychological.
Colonel George Hsu
In the Armed service, he earned the love of all his men as their platoon leader, captain or colonel, since he cared more about his men than anyone else. Throughout all the years in the Army rising from rank to rank, George never, ever had a gun in the house. He did not believe problems are solved by killing others. He even gave his mind to politics in the hope that this great nation to which he’d dedicated his life energies, would one day rise above mediocrity and fill its potential for genuine world leadership.

To this end, George gave tirelessly to the National Democratic Committee, even trying once for a seat in the State Senate to fight the growing corruption then directly harming ND’s own people. But he never let defeat of any sort dampen his own Spirit. There was always burning inside his heart a huge and compassionate store of love and of service. It is with this selfless spirit that he sailed through his colorful and multilayered life, earning the love of countless people of different persuasions and from all walks of life. He was always there for us. For anyone, actually.

Now George has taken this rare but eternal harvest of universal Love with him to Heaven. For unlike earthly riches or power, Love is what we can take with us. The outpouring of overwhelming love for George we have heard in Church and in the Community Center these past three days will in turn spawn new streams of inspiring and uplifting memories, gratitude and emulation. Although these rare and precious gifts are invisible, they are divine.

Go in Peace, beloved Lilbro, I came to America this month because of your urging, and promise to come and visit. Maybe you had some inkling, Georgie, about playing this last prank to stun the world around you. Before going on this last vacation you’d called up all old friends for long chats and, for once, you’d paid all your bills, ahead of time. You shed your body without a moment’s illness or struggle doing a most enjoyable watersport, sparing your family the draining anguish of protracted hospitalization. What a beautiful and carefree way to live, George, and to die. You are very, very blessed indeed. Let us give thinks to your Guardian Angels who have even made the Funeral Gathering in Elgin, a most Memorable Three-day Family Blast.
George Hsu at ease
Keeping him in their fondest loving memories are his wife, Kathy, Elgin, ND; 4 sons and daughters-in-law, Michael Hsu, in Texas, Stephen and Jody Hsu, Bismarck, ND; Anthony Hsu, Seattle, WA; Charles Hsu, Elgin, ND; 4 daughters and sons-in-law, Theresa Hsu, Elgin, ND; Jennifer and Casey Bettenhausen, Bismarck, ND; Sarah and John Bonvini, Gloucester, Virginia and Barbara Hsu, Mandan, ND; 8 grandchildren, two older sisters, Joan in Nepal, and Katherine in Annapolis, MD; step-mother Nancy Hsu, Seattle, WA; half-brother Alex Hsu and half-sister Barbara Hsu, both married and living in California. There is a still-growing number of nieces and nephews around the world as well as grandchildren to most of whom beloved Uncle George is already Legend.

James Cahill

Jim has left the world. Yesterday on Valentine’s Day, it is reported today, James Cahill put aside his long ailing body, his ever proactive service to the world of Chinese art history, his huge legacy books, papers, online lectures, mountains of indexes, photographs, slides many of which he’d taken himself, for us, and the thousands of other blessings and gifts to his field, his friends and family too numerous to assess, a legacy that will continue to nourish the coming students of Chinese painting for generations. But his indefatigable energy, his unbounded passion for his work, his singular generosity will remain a standard hard to match.
At last free from disease and suffering, dear Jim, lift off in joy to explore the wonderous realms beyond our present ken to which we’ll all return. Good night, sweet Prince.

在我台灣生命裡的漢寶德 —由台北、新竹到台南 翻譯:羅時瑋

原載:阿尾的落地窗 我與漢寶德初識於1981年除夕夜,那時我家樓上鄰居童虎一家人邀我全家一起慶祝。童先生當時是新竹科學園區管理局副局長,正負責園區的規劃與設計; 而我那時服務於加拿大英屬哥倫比亞的大維多利亞美術館,正進行為時一年的故宮博物院古畫鑑定研究,同時也在台大兼課,就住在長興街與童先生為鄰。 當時根本沒料到我後來竟然辭去美術館工作,而留在台灣繼續我的研究。那時童先生邀我給些點子,吸引在歐美已有成就的科技公司來台成立研發部門。


他外表英俊,談吐幽默,但又顯得持重老成。 那晚他跟我們聊到對一件博物館建築競圖案的不滿,有個參選案子為大部分展覽空間設計了大片玻璃窗,完全違背博物館需要氣候控制的基本原則,所有展出物件將受日照威脅而受損。漢寶德堅持這案不夠格該被淘汰,但最後投票結果竟然選出這個案子,而他還是評審召集人。經過這次教訓,漢寶德決定若下一次參與競圖評審,他要建議業主先僱用三家未參與的建築師事先過濾所有參選案子,先淘汰那些違反基本原則的案子,這樣可以節省時間並提升品質。

後來他參加競圖評審時就如此要求,以為就不會有太差案子出現。但還是讓他懊惱萬分,又是很差的案子贏得競圖。 他搖著頭無奈笑說:「你能想像我的感受嗎?又一次在我手上決定一個沒價值的建築設計。」我們一同嘆息,墜入沉默。我咆哮說為什麼我們竟讓這些惡質設計傷害未來的使用者,我說要讓壞建築師受到懲罰,因他們的設計會產生長遠傷害—不停的內部噪音、溼氣、黝暗,或展示品因光害而變色。






這真可怕!」我後來說:「你需要一個中間人,一位你所信任的、又熱愛科學、與人友善的人。我正好認識這樣的人,他應會是你的超級副館長,他能將你的單調生活變成更溫暖愉快!」這人就是李家維,清華大學分子與細胞生物學研究所教授,當時擔任劉兆玄校長的主任秘書。那時清華大學剛成立藝術中心,我因為是中心的主任,常跟校內各種規定奮戰,激怒各單位職員,這時劉校長只是安排家維來調停我與任何職員之間的衝突。這樣讓我能夠張羅一些有創意的展覽與音樂會,帶給大家許多歡樂。家維那時已蒐集各種的化石與海洋貝殼、以及活的植物,他家就是一座生動的自然科學博物館,佔據家裡中心位置的是超大的綠色蕨類植物,訪客還必須繞過它走動。 他曾經向我吐露說,希望自己在五十五歲時能在博物館工作。現在正是時機,雖然距離他五十五歲還早一些。但對家維來說,這是多麼理想的職位—去溫暖與活化科博館內館長與職員間的彆扭氛圍。

後來我在藝術中心主持一項極精彩的黑白攝影展,關於放射蟲的單細胞微生物,由科博館的年輕科學家葉貴玉與程延年拍攝,他們正研究這些放射蟲的類型與分佈,以計算地球表殼特殊區域的年齡。 展出這些照片與借助放大鏡來看一些微小的放射蟲標本,使我們的展覽將科學轉變為可親手操作的實況藝術,我們於是邀請寶德來清華參觀這展覽。我請家維擔任接待與導覽,但到了約定見面時候,我正在市區遇上塞車而動彈不得,家維急忙代為迎接寶德的座車。他倆在清華藝術中心相遇,立刻就互相喜歡對方,這之後就是大家所知道的發展了。

為了科博館的開幕,我籌劃一項大型生態展—「青銅時代的克里特生活」(與中國夏朝同時期),在這展覽中將足尺重現克諾索斯宮(Knossos)的一些房間和阿克羅提利(Akrotiri)的某些房間,加上耀眼白光與海上風浪吹拂過橄欖枝椏的清新音籟。這種氛圍式的光線與聲音會隨著人們走過展區而變大或變小。我說服曾因「星際大戰」獲奧斯卡獎的設計家哈利藍吉(Harry Lange)加入,一起到雅典考察阿克羅提利(山多里尼)與伊拉克流(克里特),俾有利於展覽的設計。為了節省協商版權及保險的費用與時間,我們自己拍攝當地一些物件與壁畫,希望將它們以逼真方式在科博館開幕展中呈現。我計畫只向克諾索斯及牛津的阿喜摩陵(Ashmolean)博物館商借很少的考古真品。我還與青銅時代克里特島考古學家擬定一項十座博物館合作的巡迴展覽計畫。


後來我到美國華盛頓特區史密森國家歷史博物館,我將哈利藍吉的草圖與計畫給策展人們過目,他們都很驚喜。有一人激動地說:「Joan!這就是我們這裡一直想做的「實體互動展示」(living and touching exhibition),去創造一種氛圍式身心環境!假如你們真能在台灣實現,我們願意向漢館長借展,經由史密森移動展覽服務機構的安排,到美國巡迴展覽。一路上每一站展出將付給台灣科博館至少12萬美金,需要扣除一些開銷,但還沒計算所有副產品的門市銷售呢!」有位很有經驗的史密森職員就坐下,按照藍吉初步估計的60萬英鎊複製與建築費用來計算總共成本。他們加上保險、裝箱、公關、教育資料、每個展間特殊活動的3-D電腦虛擬影像、還有可能的電腦遊戲等成本,總共是350萬美金。我當時為他們的熱心而欣喜若狂,高興地想著台灣的展覽可以輸出到美國—關於歐洲文明的大地之母;也可能輸出到歐洲,因為西班牙已聽到展覽消息而正在詢問展期。這可使台灣科博館顯得多麼精采優雅,多麼地幹練與慷慨啊!










現在寶德落單,失去了他的另一半。我對他的悲傷逾恆感同身受,我也自責若非我硬把寶德拉往台南創校,過去的兩年將會多麼不同。我記得站立黑暗中等候從香港運回的靈柩,那天濕冷,我的視野盡是無邊的灰暗。陪著我的是家維—已是科博館的副館長,和南藝籌備處主秘。我們的悲哀是那麼沉重,我們心痛如割,如同墜入深淵,無從著落。寶德站在那憂傷的永恆裡,我走向他,將我的頭埋在他胸前,失控地啜泣:「為什麼?為什麼是中行?為什麼是現在?」我只能哭問蒼天。「喔,寶德,我真對不起…」我心裡掙扎的是:「都是因為在南藝工作使得你倆過去數月分隔兩地,現在你永遠失去與中行共享生活的願望…」我不能理解、也無法接受中行的離去。 太殘忍了、不公平、完全沒道理…當中行的靈柩抵達,被放在禮壇上,奇怪的事情發生了,突然那地方變得光亮而美麗,好像中行來到我們中間。我不知道這如何發生,但暗淡的無邊慘霧變成了光明多采,中行的煥發氣息確實沒有完全離開我們。


現在學生來了,每四到五人分配住到空著的教員宿舍,內部有廚房,可自行烹飪。座落在小人工湖邊的學院餐廳,光亮而優雅,有良好視野與內部佈置。 做為學務長我曾發言要求一個大吧台,學生與教師可以點些快餐與飲料而圍坐一起。「啊,你想到酒吧,你這酒鬼?!」寶德這麼說我。雖然我相信好酒的教養效用,所有藝術家應學習優雅清醒地品酒,大學也該允許學生在餐廳一角喝酒作樂;但我要求一個四面吧台的想法,卻是觀察到像香港大學內類似空間帶來的民主與社交功能:人們可自由地坐下加入各方談話,因為大家會覺得是坐在同一吧台上。這使得各不同領域的教師可互相交換情報與共同關心的問題,透過這種輕鬆非正式的交流,有些重要決策非正式地在口頭上做出決定,可節省冗長的正式會議以及公文旅行。這只是一個特殊空間結構可節省時間的例子吧。


起先,我發現台灣稻米都有過度使用農藥的問題,查看校園四周的稻田時,我看到一片死水,沒有青蛙、蚯蚓,像鏡子般反映出靜止的天空。殺蟲劑殺死水中所有生物,這毒性也經由稻梗注入稻粒裡。天啊,我們一定不能讓這種米進入校園。 第二學期時學院餐廳即將完成,我們需要雇用一位廚師。正好寶德兒子從美國回來,大夥們一起被邀到省道上的一家商務度假飯店去聚餐。餐會中我看到一位廚師戴著高高白帽站著切出細緻的烤牛肉,以及讓人驚喜的烤鴨,兩者肉質都烤得好極了。一時興起,我說我們應該聘請這位廚師到學校為我們煮食,因他也做歐式料理,他可為我們餐廳供應非米食類餐點。「絕對不可能!」寶德嘲笑我:「沒人會放棄六星級廚師地位來為我們的五十九位學生作菜的,他永遠不會來到我們那鳥不生蛋的地方!」