Eulogy for Artist William Shih-Chieh Hung
William Shih-Chieh Hung was born on February 2nd, 1928 in Rong Cheng, Jie Yang County, Guangdong Province, China. Shih-Chieh’s grandfather was a Qing Dynasty scholar and poet, while his father was both an elementary school principal and head of his town. Due to the untimely death of Shih-Chieh’s birth mother, Shih-Chieh, along with his brother and sister, were all raised by his stepmother. At a young age, Shih-Chieh received Confucianism teachings regarding morality and ethics. In 1949, Shih-Chieh accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior; with Christ in his heart, he loved both God and other people. In 1948 Shih-Chieh and his wife, Xue-Bin Xu, married in Guangzhou. Together they had three sons – Zheng Rong, Wei Kang, Wei Ning and one daughter, Xiao Lan. Unfortunately Wei Kang, the family’s second son, passed away at a young age. After getting married, the couple repeatedly suffered political persecution due to a turbulent political situation. The couple helped one another during these difficult times and together they overcame many adversities. With the aid of his wife’s brother, Pastor Gantai Xu, the light at the end of the tunnel finally appeared. On January 23, 1979 the couple took along their youngest son Wei Ning and immigrated to the United States. In 1988, the couple welcomed Shih-Chieh’s stepmother along with the rest of the family, reuniting the entire family overseas in America.
Since childhood, Shih-Chieh was very fond of the fine arts. Unfortunately, the Sino-Japanese War was occurring at this time, causing Shih-Chieh to only obtain a high school education without an opportunity to attend college. With his strong will and perseverance, Shih-Chieh became a renowned self-taught oil painter. He worked as a high school literature teacher and as an arts instructor at the Workers’ Cultural Palace in China, which developed his artistic talent. In the United States, Shih-Chieh set up Hung’s Art Studio in Oakland. He was also selected to become an American Portrait Artists’ Association certified member as well as an honorable APSC member. United States Attorney General Edward Meese III met with Shih-Chieh personally, praising the talent of Shih-Chieh and posing together for a souvenir photo. In 2004 Shih-Chieh accompanied his wife on a trip back to China to visit relatives and ancestral graves. During this visit, the couple received a warm welcome from both the local authority and surrounding community.
Shih-Chieh diligently studied and his dedication to art lead to an abundance of artwork. His oil paintings and essays can often be seen in various Chinese publications and newspapers. His early works were mostly portrait sketches and were scattered among Chinese households. In 2001, Beijing’s People's Fine Arts Publishing House published “William Shih-Chieh Hung Oil Paintings”, now housed in more than three hundred major libraries around the world. The 2006 publication “Back to Motherland – Commemorative Book” was also equally popular, making its way to the shelves of over one hundred and fifty major libraries in China. Both publications were ranked as five-star publications by the libraries of China. Furthermore, Shih-Chieh also compiled together the family genealogy so that later generations can seek the roots of their ancestry.
Mr. Hung was upright and lived a simple life without any concern for fame and fortune. Although Shih-Chieh was never wealthy, he valued kindness and piety and still took pleasure in serving others. During the Cultural Revolution, while disregarding his own safety, Shih-Chieh redressed injustices on behalf of family members, thus earning respect from fellow clansmen and the general society. The ninety-two year old renowned Chinese painter Mr. Kang Li even wrote Shih-Chieh an inscription that read:"The gentleman’s character is as high as the mountains and as long as the rivers", completely demonstrating Shih-Chieh’s open mind and noble personality.
Despite Shih-Chieh’s recent health deterioration, he still served the community tirelessly. On May 1st, 2010, with the invitation of the Stanford University Art Department, he spoke to current art students about "Appreciating Fine Arts” and performed a demonstration of live portrait sketching. In the same year, on November 14th at the University of California, Berkeley, the Chaozhou Student Association invited Shih-Chieh to give a lecture to approximately 70 students on the history and present situation of Chaozhou. He stressed the importance for the generation to seek knowledge diligently and earnestly, not to forget the ancestors, and to remember their hometown and motherland. (This lecture has been recorded as a DVD given to Chaozhou people of all walks of life).
Mr. Hung and his wife loved one another during their initial difficult years and also during their later blessed years. They did not envy luxurious living but were content with one’s situation. There are a large amount of photographs of the two with the backdrop of the mountains and oceans and their various worldwide travel experiences. Influenced by his family’s teachings, Shih-Chieh made every effort to weaken the conflict of Western culture's impact on the Chinese family. With a household full of devout Christians, the entire family settled in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. Of the five grandchildren, four graduated from UC Berkeley and most have already started a family of their own. Shih-Chieh was a great-grandfather that enjoyed the happiness brought by the four generations together under one roof. The frequent family reunions were immersed in a harmonious warm environment. Shih-Chieh’s life, manifested with traditional Chinese virtues, distinguished him as a role model for the next generations to come.
Shih-Chieh was hospitalized at San Pablo Doctor’s Hospital in California due to esophageal cancer. This caused abundant visits from relatives and friends, some coming as far from Brazil and China. The telephone never stopped ringing with calls from those who were concerned. On May 14, 2011, Shih-Chieh succumbed to the cancer and returned to heaven at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife, eldest son and daughter-in-law, his third son and daughter-in-law, his daughter and son-in-law, five grandchildren and a grandson-in-law, and two great grandchildren. During the period of his sickness, Mrs. Hung and the rest of the family always stayed by his side. It can be said that Shih-Chieh had a long and prosperous life.
May all the glory belong to God!
Mr. Hung's artworks have been published internationally.
He has also published the following two publications recently.