755. Tribute to Dr. Bob Cheng/Dean Chang/2020/09

Tribute to Dr. Bob Cheng

Author: Dean Chang

My wife Daphne and I are saddened to hear of Dr. Bob Cheng’s passing.  Bob’s impact on our Taiwanese-American community spanned coast to coast and will be ever-lasting.  Most importantly, he was a loving husband to his beautiful bride Jean and a doting father who instilled a sense of honor, pride, and humility in sons Cliff and George.

Two aspects stand out where I saw Bob as a visionary and a great executor/chief operating officer.

For one, Bob was the driving force in the annual Taiwanese-American softball tournaments held in central New Jersey in the 1990s and the early 2000s.  That was where I first met Bob and his family.  I was very impressed with his planning and logistical execution of these 8- to 10-team tournaments year-in and year-out.  It became so popular, we saw Taiwanese-Americans not just from New Jersey but from the east coast wanting to participate.  In fact, in 2003, I personally planned a brief return to the states from a military deployment to the Middle East/east Africa to coincide with the dates of the tournament so I could play in it.  While most of us enjoyed displaying our athletic prowess (or lack thereof) on the fields of friendly strife, Bob skillfully turned a concept into reality by bringing our 2nd generation together to learn about and to celebrate our commonality of being Taiwanese-Americans.

Secondly, considering the major wave of Taiwanese migration in the late 1950s/early 1960s to the United States, spearheaded by those yearning to obtain graduate degrees, advance their professional careers, and wanting to escape the totalitarianism/martial law of the Kuomintang on Taiwan, we would have thought there would already be a depository on the history of the Taiwanese-American in the United States.  But it was Bob who actually turned that “…well, there should be one somewhere…” talk into actuality.  Without Bob, there would be no Taiwanese American Archives Center.  He tirelessly solicited donations and contributions of everything related to the Taiwanese-American (e.g., hats, t-shirts, meeting notes, conference programs, pictures, etc.) from Taiwanese-American organizations in each corner and each nook and cranny in the states.  Bob’s legacy will live on because current and future generations of Americans, Taiwanese-Americans and those interested in Taiwan, will have a central focal place to research,  to learn, to be overwhelmed, and to be amazed by the spirit, the dedication and the resolve of the Taiwanese-American.

We will all miss his calm and steady leadership and his pride in being a Taiwanese-American.  I am glad I kept in touch with Bob over the years, regardless of whether my posting was in Asia or in Africa.  Bob lit the flame for all of us to remember our struggles and our successes as Taiwanese-Americans.  Thank you for having that vision and acting on it and allowing us to be proud to be Taiwanese-Americans.

Dean Chang
Colonel (retired), U.S. Army
Foreign Service Officer (retired), U.S. Department of State


Source from Dean Chang

Post on October 1, 2020