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Ying Ying Chen

Cedar Rapids

Ying Ying Chen, 65, of Cedar Rapids, passed away peacefully on Feb. 25, 2018, in her home surrounded by family after a four-and-a-half-year battle with brain cancer.
She is survived by her husband of 43 years, Daniel Chen of Cedar Rapids; sons, Fu Chen of Cedar Rapids and Philip Chen (Steph) of Iowa City; and grandson, Kai Chen of Iowa City. Also surviving Ying Ying are her father, F.T. Chang; mother, N.L. Yang; and brothers, Kevin (Su Ying) and Daniel Chang (Lydia), all of Taipei, Taiwan.
A girl from Taiwan who would proudly call Eastern Iowa home, an uncommon path, to say the least. But, driven by abiding faith, joy and courage, Ying Ying would lead an uncommon life, and one that was well-lived. She was an avid reader, seeker of knowledge, sang a mean karaoke to classic Chinese pop songs, and enjoyed ballroom dancing (and somehow convinced her husband to enjoy it as well).
The daughter of schoolteachers, Ying Ying herself would devote her life to education, retiring in 2014 as the executive director of Learning Services in the College Community School District.
In 1974, Ying Ying graduated from National Taiwan Normal University with a degree in social science. She earned her master's degree in special education from the University of Akron and completed her administrative studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Ying Ying started her career as an ESL teacher in Taiwan. She later served as a secondary special education teacher and a Title I curriculum and instruction supervisor. She served as an elementary principal from 1992 to 2006, with three years in Oshkosh, Wis., and 11 years with the College Community School District in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For the last eight years of her career, Ying served as the district's executive director of Learning Services.
Ying Ying's passion for excellence inspired greatness in others and yielded extraordinary results. In 2002, Ying Ying received the National Milken Family Educational Foundation Award as one who has demonstrated exceptional educational talent, strong leadership, and an ability to motivate both students and colleagues. In 2013, Ying Ying received the Dr. Carmen P. Sosa Award at the Iowa Culture and Leadership Conference for her dedication and leadership as College Community's English Language Learner Program administrator. She was a 2014 honoree of Ovation, A Tribute to Iowa Women and Girls, having been nominated by many longtime colleagues who recognized her unique ability to effectively lead and sustain change. Ying Ying will be posthumously honored later this year with a HER Women of Achievement Award from HER Magazine, a publication of The Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Accolades would affirm that she was on the right path, but what really brought Ying Ying joy were quiet moments of true connection: reading to children, encouraging students and staff after a rough day, or witnessing the spark of satisfaction that comes with each new skill mastered.
At home, Ying Ying brought us the same love, joy and dedication, not to mention patience and understanding (which were required in abundance). Just like her work family, she taught us well and loved us better. As important as her work was to her, she never brought the burdens of work home. She took the blessings of home to work.
Visitation for Ying Ying will be held Sunday, March 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service, 605 Kirkwood Ave., Iowa City. A reception will follow the visitation. Private inurnment will be in Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery in Cedar Rapids. A scholarship fund at College Community School District has been endowed in her name.
In lieu of flowers, please direct memorial donations to The Prairie School Foundation, 401 76th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-7034, www.prairiefoundation.com.