Kuan-Yao Lam Nie came from a large Chinese family. She was the fourth born of nine children. She had five sisters and three brothers. In China, it is often customary that siblings are identified in the order of their birth and addressed each other accordingly. Kuan-Yao was simply called “Number 4” by her family and all her nieces and nephews called her “Number 4 Auntie” in respect. In her formative years in China, she and her “Number 3” and “Number 5” sisters developed an immense enjoyment and appreciation of music. All of them learned to play the piano. Kuan-Yao also took singing lessons and developed a beautiful singing voice.
While in a missionary high school in Shanghai, she became the star center on its varsity championship basketball team. She went on to St. John’s University in Shanghai majoring in education. While at St. John’s she met James Nie, whom she married, after graduation, in 1947. They moved to Tienjin where James, who studied mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley before returning to China, managed a factory that belonged to his family. Her son, Ian, was born there. In 1949, the family fled to Hong Kong after the Communists took over his factory and seized all their property. China was pitched into the turmoil of civil war and the family fled.
The family took refuge in Hong Kong for 10 years. Her daughter, E-Ping, was born there. Kuan-Yao was able to secure a position as a kindergarten teacher at the school associated with the Hong Kong Congregational Church. On the strength of her educational training and dedication to her students she was soon named Assistant Superintendent of the school. Some of those kindergarten students--who are now very prominent Hong Kong citizens--maintained contact with her for more than 60 years. She held that position for 8 years. Kuan-Yao was also a member of the church choir. Her love of singing would continue for the rest of her life.
In May of 1959, Kuan-Yao and James immigrated as refugees to America to seek a better, more hope filled future for their children. While they were not able to take their official documents when they fled China, Kuan-Yao was able to bring with her the strong recommendations of the school and its administrators from Hong Kong, her work ethic and dedication to teaching, her love of music which, again, secured her a position as the kindergarten teacher at Royce School, in Beloit, where she taught for 25 years.
Kuan-Yao was a devoted member of Second Congregational Church of Beloit and a dedicated member of its choir for her entire life here in Beloit. She never hesitated to reach out her hands to pull others up in her community. Kuan-Yao never hesitated to put herself after the needs of others and to friends, she was steadfast and loyal. For her students, she worked ti relessly to bring the joy of learning to them, every day of her life. Her life was long and full of wonderful moments of generosity, kindness and warmth. Her will to care and love will endure in the hearts and memory of her friends and family.
Survived by Ian Nie, son, Emily Nie, daughter-in-law, of Beloit and E-Ping Nie Medalia, daughter, James Medalia, son-in-law, of Princeton, NJ and granddaughter, May-Ying Chelsea Nie Medalia, Seattle, WA.
Rosman,Uehling,Kinzer Funeral Home and Crematorium is serving the family. Please send online condolences to rukfuneralhome.com