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Alice Patricia Hsiu-Yun Liu Szema, 85, died March 2, 2019 surrounded by family at Millennium Memory Care in Holmdel, NJ after complications from strokes.

Born Liu Hsiu-Yun, May 10, 1933 in Shanghai, China, Alice was the daughter of the late Liu Tzu-Liang and Liu Lei Pei-Chen.  Her childhood, enriched with trips to Chinese opera, parks, and bookstores with her father, watching her mother play mahjong, and having doting grandparents, was interrupted due to the atrocities of the Sino-Japanese and Chinese Civil Wars. Alice left China with her parents, younger brother and elder cousin after her father, a cargo ship owner, prepared their new home in Taiwan.  Originally scheduled to sail on the Taiping ship January 26, 1949 from Shanghai, the Liu family swapped tickets with another family who needed to delay their travel. Her family departed December 6, 1948 on the Zhong Shin Ren ship. Unfortunately, the Taiping collided with another ship, Chien Yuan and over 1500 passengers perished.

Alice helped manage their Taipei family store, studying at the cash register while attending to expatriates and university students. She became a devout Catholic while attending a Catholic high school.  Dissuaded from pursuing medicine, Alice earned a BA in Foreign Languages and Literature in 1955 from National Taiwan University.  She worked at the Taiwan International Telephone Company, gained entry to Boston College, and agreed to be a caretaker for a Boston family to pay for her airfare. She flew to the USA on May 30, 1956-- one of the first international students to travel by plane instead of by ship.  Alice relocated to NYC, completed her MA in sociology at NYU in 1961 and continued her doctoral studies where she was a graduate fellow and president of the International Students Association.  Alice availed herself of standing room only student tickets to the NYC opera, ballet, and Broadway shows. While organizing international student events, Alice met her husband, Li-Chieh Szema, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering at Columbia University, and they wed on June 6, 1964. 

Alice and Li started their family in Endicott, NY.  Moving intermittently due to Li’s career, Alice was an educator at private/public schools, community college, and was a certified Montessori administrator and superintendent.  She completed a BS in computer science at Union College in 1984 when her children were in college.  Upon retirement, the Szemas moved from Cincinnati to Long Island (Mount Sinai, Commack) to be closer to their grandchildren.

Alice will be remembered for her generosity, baking treats and introducing new foods to friends and family, sending greeting cards, listening to classical music and opera on NPR, gardening, sewing, watercolor painting, and ballroom dancing with Li.  She was an avid reader: literature, medical journals, the NY Times.  Frequently humming tunes, she pampered her children and grandchildren, encouraging them to pursue higher education, a love of music and the arts, and swimming. Her home always had ice-cream, child-friendly furniture, arts & crafts, office supplies, books, and music.

Li and Alice endowed the Szema Yung-Pien Scholarship Award at Stony Brook School of Medicine, a mentoring award at Gettysburg College, and a scholarship at Albany Medical College.

Pre-deceased by her husband, Li, of 54 years on November 16, 2018. Alice is survived by her children, Dr. Anthony Szema (Dr. Denise Monte) of East Setauket, NY and Dr. Katherine Szema (Dr. ChongMin Kim) of Shrewsbury, NJ.  Grandchildren, Preston and Grant Kim and Allison and Austin Szema. Younger brother, William Wei-Lin Liu (Chia-Ling) of Northridge, CA.  Ex-sister-in-law Catherine Tse Kung of San Francisco.  Nephews, Chung-Huan Liu (Carolina Moraes) of Palo Alto, CA and Zhong-Xin Ricardo Liu (Amy) of Champaign, IL.  Grandnieces, Julianna and Elisa Moraes-Liu.

Visitation and private services were held Saturday, March 9th at Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad Street, Red Bank, NJ.

Donations in Alice’s memory may be made to: The Stony Brook Foundation, Szema Yung-Pien Scholarship Award, School of Medicine, P.O. Box 1511, Stony Brook, NY 11790-0590.

Bruce S. Thompson, Owner & Manager, NJ LIC #3740