Sheng Chung Fang, ’44, ’48, says he wasn’t particularly ambitious, but instead rather lucky.
“It seems I was in the right place at the right time,” he says. “Corvallis is a nice area, good for raising a family, and I was lucky to marry my wife, Cynthia, and to live in such a beautiful environment.”
Sheng was born in 1914 in China, the youngest of 12 siblings, to a father who ran a freight forwarding business and who was known to be a compassionate man. In fact, he would go out on New Year’s Eve with a bag of money to help the poor and those unable to pay the debt collectors.
It would seem he has something in common with his father, who died when Sheng was just a baby — a generous spirit and a heart for paying it forward.
In 1999, Sheng established the Cynthia W. M. Li Fang Memorial Scholarship to support students in the CPHHS. He also established the Dr. Sheng Chung Fang Endowed Fellowship in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and in Summer 2016 created the Dr. Sheng Chung Fang Chemistry Fellowship for graduate students in the College of Science. An additional gift to the CPHHS scholarship and other scholarships in his name means this man from humble beginnings has given more than $1 million to his beloved Oregon State University.
Sheng and Cynthia met at Oregon State and married in 1948. The couple and their daughter, Anna, spent their lives in Corvallis, where Sheng worked in OSU’s Department of Agricultural Chemistry before retiring in the early ’80s.
Sheng came to the United States in 1941 and attended the University of California at Berkeley, but later moved to Oregon State to study agriculture. He stayed at OSU after receiving his PhD to become a researcher in the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, studying the effect of pesticides on plants and animals.
Cynthia, meanwhile, earned a degree in Home Economics, now in the CPHHS, and took care of the home. She came from a multi-generational family in Hong Kong, and at that time it was unusual for a daughter to be sent to a university in the United States. Nevertheless, she arrived in 1948 on the Queen Elizabeth ocean liner, which took nearly three weeks to reach America.
“After I retired, we entertained and played mahjong with large groups of our friends, many of them were working at OSU, and traveled to Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. We also had groups of Chinese students over to the house, supported the local OSU Chinese Students Association and were members of the Oregon Chinese Association.”
He says he supports the college because education is important. “Education is something that cannot be taken away from you once the degree is earned. It is my pleasure to support the college, and I do it in memory of Cynthia.
“I also like to support the local community that I have been living in since 1948, and academic scholarships are one of the best ways to help students achieve academic excellence. The students can go out in the world and utilize their CPHHS degrees to better the world.”