99-year-old Lipscomb alumnus Liu leaves behind legacy of service

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At nearly 99 years old, Lipscomb alumnus John S. K. Liu passed away on Dec. 29, 2018 in Beijing, China. Liu was born in Ping Jiang County, or “Longevity Village,” in the Hunan Province of China in 1920. A student in classical Chinese and modern Western studies, Liu joined the military after the Japanese invasion in 1937. After ten years in the Chinese Army, he boarded the Queen Mary and came to the United States to visit a farmer from Tennessee who, as an American Sergeant, had saved his life in combat.

Once in Nashville, Liu enrolled at Lipscomb University where he met his wife, Eleanor Echols. The couple were married in the lobby of Johnson Hall in 1951 and later opened Liu’s Chinese American Restaurant on Harding Road, the first of their many business ventures in both Tennessee and Indiana. Their commitment to Christ and clear moral standards in business awarded the Liu’s the Lipscomb University Heroes of Business Award in 2012.

Both Liu and his wife had careers in business and education that spanned more than 20 years. When in Indiana, he taught Chinese cooking at Indiana University and served as a consultant for various companies, helping them establish contacts with Chinese businesses while Eleanor taught in the Indiana school system.

After former President Richard Nixon re-established relations with China in the 1970s, Liu returned to his home country for the first time since 1941. From then on the Liu family divided their time between the United States and China, and in 1990 his son, John D. Liu, built a Chinese courtyard style house in Beijing for the family. It was here that Liu lived out the rest of his life.

“We are saddened but not surprised,” wrote Liu’s son. “We are happy that he had such a rich and varied life and was surrounded by his wife of 68 years, his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren when he passed.”