Uncle Henry Tsung Ming Li

Remembering  Uncle Henry Tsung-Ming Li

Henry Tsung-Ming Li (李宗明) passed  away  peacefully  in  his  sleep at  the  age  of  99, on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, at home  in San Francisco, CA. He was born in Wuxi, China, on July 28, 1924 to Di-Xian Li (李迪先) and Wei-Xin Xue (薛緯新) and spent his childhood in Shanghai. Tsung-Ming recalled his early life in Shanghai and the tough days preceding and throughout World War II. Tsung-Ming often reminisced to his children and grandchildren about his family’s work to set up factories that supplied vital textile goods during this time. These wartime experiences shaped his belief in the indomitable power of human capital to overcome the direst circumstances and in American exceptionalism.

Tsung-Ming graduated from St. John’s College in Shanghai in 1946. He received a scholarship to study in America for graduate school. On January 4, 1947, Tsung-Ming boarded a ship to America to study at John B. Stetson University in Florida. Tsung-Ming subsequently moved to The University of Chicago where he worked with Herbert Stein and received his master’s degree in economics.

In Chicago, Henry Tsung-Ming Li married Mary Bei-Li Loh (陸培麗) in 1953. Together, they raised four children, Ellen (藹倫), Abby (藹佩), Joachim (耀興), and Dean (耀迪)  – J.A.D.E.

Tsung-Ming held in reverence a love of learning that he imparted to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Tsung-Ming and Mary were proud of their nephews Yao-En (耀恩) and Yao-Xiong (耀熊) whom they guided in building new lives upon emigrating from China in the 1980s. From studying the original works of Homer and Virgil in preparation for an Aegean cruise with his daughters, standing at attention with his grandchildren at American Civil and Revolutionary War sites, or teaching chess through play with his great grandchildren, Tsung-Ming embraced the joie de vivre that powered his enduring appreciation of art, music, literature, history, and philosophy, a joy and appreciation he cultivated in each generation.

Tsung-Ming was an active participant in the Midwest Chinese Student Alumni Services (CSAS) from its founding with the Reverend Ellen Studley to the late 1970s.  He served for several years on the Midwest CSAS council and as editor of the CSAS newsletter. He attended Chinese Family Camp with his family in the early 1960s and 1970s, serving as camp director in 1974.

In his later life Tsung-Ming moved between St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Columbus to bask in the lives of his children’s families. During the past 10 years, following Mary’s debilitating stroke, Tsung-Ming remained “adaptable, adjustable, and amusable”. He cherished his final years with Mary and lived his vows, made 70 years ago, “to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health” and “to love you and honor you all the days of my life.”


Henry Tsung-Ming Li is survived by 4 children, Ellen (Samuel Stanley, Jr.), Abby (Pui-Yan Kwok), Joachim (Anita Sil), and Dean (Ruth Hoffman); 12 grandchildren, James (Francesca), Susan (Pratik), Benjamin (Erin), Katherine (Eric), Thomas (Lindsey), Erica (Hillary), Samuel III, Andrew, Adam, Jesse, Spencer, and Sienna; and 6 great-grandchildren (Riley, Oona, Alexander, James Henry, Zuri, and Eleanor). Tsung-Ming touched countless friends, family, and strangers, delighting in conversation and the lives of others. Tsung-Ming was preceded in death by his wife Mary and his four brothers, Tsung-Gang (宗江), Tsung-Tao (宗渤), Tsung-Hai (宗海), and Hong-Hui (永輝).

Memorial donations may be made to Chinese Family Camp at https://chinesefamilycamp.org/donate/