As NPR’s Andy Carvin points out in an affecting eulogy to “the Mayor of Chinatown,” his passing robs Chinatown of yet another vital link to its past. What’s left is for us to learn, and remember:
He and his family came to the U.S. from China in 1982. They lived in a rowhouse about two blocks south of NPR. For years he worked at the local Chinese restaurants to save up enough money to send their children to college. And several years ago he suffered a minor stroke. As part of his therapy, he would go for that walk with his wife each day.
I never got to know him. I don’t even know if he even recognized me each day in the same way that I always recognized him. But I feel a profound sense of loss with his passing — not only for his wife and family, but for Chinatown itself.
This isn’t just a story about how recklessness and lack of consideration can have huge and tragic consequences. It’s a story about the importance of the strangers around us, a reminder of how much we should treasure and respect each other. Condolences are due to Mr. Chu’s beloved – the kids he helped put through college, his wife who was also struck that day. But Andy’s right, the loss is all of ours.