Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Guiqin Yu, born on November 29th, 1945 (lunar calendar) in Jilin Province, China, passed away at home peacefully in Amherst, MA on September 26th, 2020. She is survived by three children Lei Zhang (Qiang Wang), Enkai Zhang, and Enhua Zhang (Fred Treyz); six grandchildren Guanqun, Qi, Peter, Eric, Justin, and Athena.
Growing up in northeastern China, Guiqin lost her father to the famine during the Great Leap Forward (1958-60) at the age of 15. She was sent down to the countryside to work on a farm and orchard in Liaoning Province at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. She moved to a remote village in Jilin after getting married, and lived there for nine years. In 1978, with the policy restoring sent-down youth back to the city, her family moved to the county and she worked as a lab technician at a local winery. Upon the disintegration of the collectively-owned wine factory, she worked as a homemaker and self-reliant farmer. In 2010, she joined her younger daughter’s family in Amherst, MA. Endearingly nicknamed by her daughter “the daughter of the earth”, Guiqin found great pleasure in gardening and farming till the end of her life. She loved sharing her harvest with family, friends, neighbors, and community.
Guiqin was a devoted daughter, a selfless mother, an accommodating mother-in-law, a most doting grandmother, and a caring auntie to many of her daughter’s friends. Her bravery, endurance, tenacity, and adaptation constantly amazed the people around her. On top of her expansive Chinese repertoire, she learned to cook her grandchildren’s favorite western food, including Mac & Cheese, spaghetti with meatballs, steaks and French fries, homemade tomato sauce, and applesauce.
The family wants to thank many medical professionals in the Thoracic Cancer Treatment Center of Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DCFI), the Radiation Oncology of Brigham Women’s Hospital, and the Hospice Care of Baystate Hospital. Dr. David J. Kwiatkowski of DFCI had provided excellent care and support for Guiqin throughout her survival.
Guiqin will be remembered and missed by her family, relatives, friends, and the people who crossed her path. The family will host a small service at Grace Church in Amherst at 11am on October 3rd. Williamsburg Funeral Home has been entrusted with her Cremation. www.HampshireCremation.com