Dr. Charles C. Chen

(May 22, 1929 - October 22, 2010)

Charles C. Chen, professor emeritus of physics at Ohio University, died Oct. 22 at Hickory Creek Nursing Center, The Plains, of acute respiratory failure. He was 81.

Dr. Chen specialized in solid state, quantum and statistical physics, teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses from 1963 until full retirement at age 70 in 1999. He collaborated on research grants, including one from the US Air Force, and presented various scientific papers. He chaired the PhD comprehensive exam committee and served on various PhD student committees. In the 1990s, he served as advisor to the Ohio University Taiwanese student association.

Dr. Chen, a native of Taiwan, spoke four languages fluently because of his unusual life circumstances. At home, his family spoke the southeastern China-Formosan dialect. Born a Japanese citizen during Japan's occupation of the island, he had to attain fluency in Japanese to attend school in the pre-1945 era.

During 1945-49, as a citizen of China, he learned mandarin Chinese to continue his schooling. Then when Mao Tse-tung forced Chiang Kai-shek's troops onto Taiwan, his citizenship changed again. Meanwhile, he learned English.

After graduating from National Taiwan University, he began teaching math and science to students not much younger than he was. In 1957, having won a scholarship from the University of Maryland, he took a freighter to the United States and recalls seeing Sputnik in the night sky. While a PhD student, he married Mary Kay Shyu, now deceased. He was naturalized in Athens in 1969.

He met his future wife, Anne M. Cooper, a professor in the EW Scripps School of Journalism, on Halloween in Athens in 1985. Together they lived in Nagoya and Tokyo, Japan; Leipzig, Germany; Shah Alam, Malaysia; and Beijing and Daxing, China. In 2005 in Jinan, Shandong Province, China, Dr. Chen and Dr. Cooper supervised and taught an OU study abroad student group. They also team taught courses in Japanese and Chinese at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York for the past 10 years.

His parents, a sister and a daughter, Deborah, preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife, Anne Cooper, of Athens; a daughter, Dr. Diana Chen (Keith Wisecarver), a son, Derek, and three grandchildren Adam, Amy and Allison all of Tulsa, OK. He also leaves four sisters, a bother, and many nieces and nephews, all in Taiwan.

The family extends thanks to the Athens Emergency Medical Service, Holzer Medical Center in Gallipolis and Hickory Creek Nursing Center in Athens for care over the last five weeks. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Athens, PO Box 333, Athens 45701, memo Charles Chen. A private family graveside service will be held. Pallbearers will be Derek Chen, Dylan Kehoe, Kevin Weber, Keith Wisecarver and Evan Young.

Arrangements are by Hughes-Moquin Funeral Home, Athens. Messages to the family may be sent via this link.

Last modified on 10/27/2010


Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, Clippinger Lab 251B, Athens, OH 45701
Tel: 740-593-1718 Fax: 740-593-0433 Email:physics@ohio.edu