"Such sadness and sorrow The heavens have forsaken me." These are the words spoken by Confucius at the death of his beloved student. Likewise, we here today are all deeply dismayed at the loss of our dear friend, Dr Hi Chang Chai. Dr. Chai's passing is something that I can hardly believe. It is impossible to put into words how I feel, but God knows the many things I would say.
Everyone who knew and loved him has lost a true friend. For Mrs Chai, Moon Ki, Sun Ki, Yoon Ki, and the rest of you in his family, he has etched a place in your hearts that can never be erased, even by death. I personally shall always feel this way. We know how much he meant to us, all of us members of the "Manoa Club." We looked on him as a brother. We raised our children together, sent our kids to Punahou together, and spent all of our holidays together like an extended family. He took pride in being chairman of the Manoa Club, gathering the Korean professors and their families at his home. I think all of us here, as well as our children, have many fond memories of the holiday gatherings held at Dr. Chai's home over the years, where he always played the consummate host.
My own daughter, in fact, reminded me about the essence of Dr Chai, when she sent me an email expressing her own incredulity at Dr Chai's passing:
I QUOTE, "I keep thinking about Dr Chai's Thanksgiving gatherings and him cooking turkey in his white undershirt. And about how he called himself a 'freshman' after he retired, when he went back to school to study music."
This simple reflection captures the indelible spirit of Dr Chai, who valued his friends and family, and by gathering us together, also taught us to value each other. An upbeat man of action, he was not content to be idle after he retired, he continued to study; he continued to grow and learn.
When I think of Hi Chang Chai, I think of a man of moderation, with a strong belief in higher education; a man who was true, not only in his words but in his actions. He was faithful friend and a humble person, an individual of integrity, perseverance, and reliability.
Among his many intellectual accomplishments and humanitarian contributions, however, what I admire most about Dr. Chai is his style of life. He lived his life contented with small means; he was modest. Rather than hankering after luxury, he pursued elegance, refinement over fashion. He strove to be worthy, not wealthy. He sought to study hard, to think quietly, to talk gently, to act frankly, living through common. He was a careful listener, and when he spoke, he did so without exaggerating.
His last words to me were, "I am not afraid of dying." These words are a testament to his courage, sincerity and humility, for only a good man, a man without regret, only a soul who has lived well can reconcile himself to death without fear, because he has accomplished what he needed to accomplish in his time here on earth.
Our gathering here today is inescapable proof that our cherished friendship of Dr. Chai will continue to live on in our memories and our hearts. He was a unique soul and the best model of professor and human being.
Hi Chang Chai, we will miss you. Our loss here on earth, however, is heaven's gain. May the Almighty keep you and peace be with your soul, always.