Simei Tong, December 9, 1960 - October 3, 2019

Simei  Tong
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Simei Tong, age 58 of Eau Claire passed away Thursday evening, October 3, 2019 at Wissota Place in Chippewa Falls, WI.

Simei was born on December 9, 1960 in Shanghai, China. She grew up in Shanghai with three siblings and finished her bachelor degree in Mathematics from Tongji University in 1984. She taught at a three-year college for eight years. 

Simei married Gang (Chuck) Cheng in 1987 and had their daughter, Xiaowen. In 1993, Simei continued her graduate studies in the United States while Chuck took care of Xiaowen and their parents in China.

In 2002, Simei finished her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Oklahoma State University and landed her dream job, a tenure track math professor at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, and was able to bring Xiaowen to the United States. 

She worked diligently teaching, researching, and helping others. She launched Active Learning, a style of teaching engaging students in the learning process through group discussion. She applied and refined this method over the years, transforming the department from traditional lecturing. She loved to combine math and art to let students see the beauty of math through artistic design. She also worked with students in over twenty research projects, some receiving awards and students receiving prestigious internships due to these experiences. In 2006, Simei co-founded the UWEC Math Club, a major student organization which helps the department welcome new students and participates in events throughout the year.

Simei was also heavily involved in the local community, where she co-founded the Chinese Fellowship and Scholarship Association in 2006. CFSA is an organization which gives people a group to gather, understand, and display Chinese culture in Chippewa Valley. In 2013, Simei joined three local sewing clubs where she enjoyed learning to sew. Since then, she made dozens of quilts, some of which were selected by the Quilt Expo in Madison, Wisconsin to display. She co-organized a “Quilt as Art” exhibition in the Foster Gallery at UWEC, where she hoped new generations would carry on the rich heritage of quilting.  

Overall, Simei was a happy, outgoing person. She was especially very proud of her daughter, Xiaowen, and the career that she made. She also was very excited and happy to meet her first grandchild, Amelia, in August. She truly enjoyed her time with the math department at UWEC and loved the community Eau Claire provided for her 17 years there. Her enthusiasm for mathematics and teaching can best be summed up in the teaching philosophy she wrote when she first began her career, “My dream is to be a good mathematics professor. The best mathematics professors in my mind are those who present a complicated topic in a simple clever way, who inspire creative thinking, who provide comfort and encouragement and who lift up and challenge...I would say ‘love mathematics, love teaching, and love my students’ is the soul of my dream.”

Simei is survived by her daughter Xiaowen Hogue, son-in-law John Hogue, granddaughter Amelia, all of Saint Louis Park, MN, and her mother Di Wu, brother Lianxing Tong, brother Lianwei Tong, sister Xiaoxi Tong all of Shanghai, China. She is preceded in death by her husband, Gang Cheng.

Finally, a special thank you to the Mayo Cancer Center in Eau Claire, where their expertise made things as easy as they could be, and to Wissota Place in Chippewa Falls, where their staff was always friendly and their service excellent.

Memorial service will take place at 11am on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at Peace Lutheran Church, 501 E. Fillmore Avenue, Eau Claire, WI 54701. Memorial visitation will take place one hour prior to the service at church. Private family burial will take place at a later time at Lakeview Cemetery.

Friends and family may offer condolences online at www.hulkefamilyfh.com.

Hulke Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 3209 Rudolph Road, Eau Claire, WI 54701 is assisting the family with the arrangements.

Condolences

  1. Ling Liu October 19, 2019

    It has been very difficult for me to accept your loss of a beloved family member and a dear friend to my family these days. My condolences to Xiaowen, and her family. Simei was the first Chinese I knew in Eau Claire and I had lunch with her at my campus visit when interviewing for the UWEC faculty position. I ended up accepting the UWEC position because of her many good words about the people and the community here. Simei was my family friend and we will miss her badly. Wish Simei rest in peace.

  2. Emily Varner October 19, 2019

    Simei Tong was my professor for Math 109. She cared a lot about her students and was a passionate teacher. If we got an answer right, she would make us feel awesome! Thoughts for her family, friends, and loved ones.

  3. Mohammad Aziz October 17, 2019

    We are so sad for your loss. Our condolences to Xiaowen, and family. Simei was an excellent instructor and a wonderful human being. Simei left good impact on her students and many people in our community. She was our family friend and we will miss her badly. Rest in peace Simei.

    Aziz and Sonia

  4. Wendy Makoons Geniusz October 16, 2019

    I am very sad to hear of your family's loss. I will greatly miss seeing Simei on campus. My prayers are with you.

  5. Jarred Wieser October 16, 2019

    Simei was a tremendous math instructor and personal mentor to me.

  6. Bruce Lo October 16, 2019

    The news of Dr. Simei Tong's passing came as a shock to me. My wife, Ruth, and I would like to send our deepest sympathy to her family. She was such a great person, always helpful, fully dedicated to her Mathematics profession and the Chinese Friendship and Scholarship Association (CFSA) among others. I can still remember the first small group of 'CFSA' members met at our home, when I was elected the president and she the vice-president. It is gratifying to see CFSA had grown into a mature organization. Her contributions should never be overlooked. She will surely be missed by not only her family but all her friends and colleagues.

  7. Mitra M Sadeghpour October 15, 2019

    Dear Simei, I have missed you in the years since I left UWEC and I am so sad I will never get to talk with you again. We started at UWEC together, and did so many things together through CETL. You were a lovely human, who cared so deeply for your students and the teaching of mathematics. I always remember how proud you were of your daughter in everything she did. I will always, always remember you, and it will always bring a smile to my face. All my love, Mitra

  8. Julia Counard October 15, 2019

    Professor Tong was the first instructor I had who made math an enjoyable subject for me. I took a class instructed by her my first semester freshman year at UWEC. We combined math with quilting, and it opened to my eyes to see a side of mathematics that could be fun and rewarding (but was not without its challenges!). Everyday when we would come to class she would share with us how important it was to live life to the fullest and do the things you want to do. She always expressed to us how happy she was for all of us to have the rest of our college careers left, and not to waste it. She was a kind, beautiful soul.

  9. Ruidong Zhang October 15, 2019

    My condolences to Simei's family. Simei was a dedicated educator in mathematics and was an active member in local Chinese scholar association. Simei will be missed by many on UWEC campus.

  10. Lillian Vang October 15, 2019

    I send my deepest condolences to Dr. Simei Tong's family. Dr. Tong was an inspiration on campus and always had a smile on her face. As a student of Dr. Tong, I could always count on her determination to make the worst days to the hardest math problems easier. She will be greatly missed and never forgotten.

  11. Mary Beth Leibham October 15, 2019

    I am proud to have been Simei's colleague. Her passion for teaching was absolutely palpable and she inspired me to be a better teacher. I truly believe that there are countless UWEC students/graduates who are better people because of Simei. Thank you, Simei, for your contributions to teaching and learning.

  12. Anja Marker October 15, 2019

    Dr. Simei Tong was the first professor/course I ever had here at the University. She was very welcoming and made a 9am math course more fun than many could. She was a light to many, especially my friends in the math department. My deepest sympathy to the family.

  13. Nathan Miller October 15, 2019

    Dr. Tong and I joined the University at about the same time. I was immediately impressed with her dedication to the students and her passion for mathematics. She was a very kind and interesting person, and an excellent professor. She will be missed!

  14. Tan Man Hee October 15, 2019

    Dear Dr.Tong, my deepest condolence, may your soul rest in peace, God bless.

  15. 童廉行 October 11, 2019

    似梅是我们的小妹,是我们引以为傲的家庭成员之一。她从小就聪明伶俐,勤奋好学,处事认真,爱憎分明,恪守规矩。79年到84年在同济大学数学系学习,毕业后到上海电子医疗器械公司的厂办大学任教八年。虽然那时似梅已经结婚并有了可爱的女儿,但仍想进一步深造。为出国留学,她学习缝纫、打字、烹饪等,为立足美国做了多方面准备。93年初春告别家人赴美,辗转求学,吃了很多苦,终成正果,取得数学博士学位,是我们家学习的楷模。
    似梅不仅自己求学若渴,还积极创造条件鼓励所有的孩子到美国深造,充分体现她重视教育,重视人才培养的大义。
    “春蚕到死丝方尽”,2017年发现得了重病后,似梅仍坚持学校的教学工作,仍在为她本专业的教学改革不懈努力,为她所热爱的事业贡献了全部。
    我们的小妹因病去世了,天堂没有病痛,愿她在天之灵安息!

  16. 余寸晖 (Chun) October 10, 2019

    I met Simei in September of 1984. We were among 7 new college graduates reported to our first job teaching in college on the first day of work. We were so young, so confident, and so ambitious. We were very excited about China’s economic reform. We often hosted weekly or monthly evening salon in our office discussing China’s history, dissect Chinese leaders’ personal background, character, and their historical impact, and the future of our country. Salon attendees also included our respective college classmates working for different companies. Simei loved politics and never held back when sharing her political opinions. She liked to use classroom as a platform to introduce new concepts and instill good value into those learning minds.

    When Simei started dating Cheng, Gang, a son of her college professor, I sometimes found myself as a messenger between the two. I lived very close to Cheng, Gang’s home. Back then there was no cellphone or residential landline phone. Occasionally they had small argument, I would become a messenger between the two to clear some air and setup their next date… After they got married, Simei moved into Cheng’s and I got to visit them both more often. I remember visiting Simei and her less than one-month old newborn daughter, Xiaowen, Simei was telling me how Xiaowen was so precious and so small that she could fit her on top of a pillow. Now Simei’s daughter, Xiaowen, has her own new born daughter. Life has come to a full circle.

    Two years after I came to U.S., Simei joined me in Oklahoma to pursue a master’s degree in Math. Like most Chinese students, Simei had to figure out how to support herself. Without administrative skills, such as type writing, etc. our options on campus were limited. After couple days sting as campus custodial, Simei when straight to the Dean of math department and said “look at my hands, this two hands used to write math formulas on chalkboard and now they are so rough because of my night job as a custodial worker…”. After that conversation, she got herself a new campus job as a teaching assistant. During her early days in U.S., we discussed her decision of leaving Xiaowen behind with Cheng,Gang in China. Simei was very focused on her two life long goals: 1) teach math in a university and 2) provide Xiaowen a good life. She understood the responsibilities and sacrifices that came along as she achieving these goals.

    During our last visit in August to bid our final farewell, Simei told me that she was very proud of Xiaowen who has grown to be an independent woman and is blessed with a loving husband, John and John’s family. She was content with her own professional achievement and became a university professor. I am so glad that she got to meet and hold Amelia.

    Life is not measured by how long we reside on this earthly planet rather by the purpose and quality of our life. Xiaowen, May you find strength during this difficult time and cherish the loving memories of your mom and dad. They are now together but they don’t go away. They walk beside you every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near…

  17. Alex Smith October 9, 2019

    In her own words, Simei said, "My dream is to be a good mathematics professor." That dream certainly came true! She was an excellent math professor. Simei contributed so much to the social network of the math department, and it made the mathematics learned and taught at our university so much more meaningful.

  18. Tongji University Math Classmates October 9, 2019

    我们亲爱的同窗好友,童似梅同学因病医治无效不幸于2019年10月3日离开我们了,这是我们班级的巨大损失,童似梅,安息吧!我们将永远怀念你!
    童似梅,你取得的成就一直是我们79数学同学们引以为豪的!当年的计算数学课代表,同济大学的女子长跑冠军 美国大学的数学教授!你带给我们太多太多美好的记忆。。。
    童似梅,愿你在天堂一路走好

  19. 童廉微 October 9, 2019

    似梅是位杰出的女性,小时候是个令人怜爱,聪明乖巧的女孩,自她孩提认字读书起,她就显示出勤奋,认真,听话,隐忍,坚守规矩等特质,稍大一点她就被学校老师看中选为班长成为老师的好帮手。她小时候的学习成绩一直很好直到小学毕业。读中学时因为当时的政治原因和就近入学政策(学生本人是无法挑选学校)她就读于一所离家很近的,比较差的学校,但即便是这样,似梅她以非常认真的学习态度,很好的智慧能力以及积极进取的毅力不但完成了初高中学习任务,还超前学习了不少学科精练的课题,为后来考上一流大学打下了基础。似梅在学习上是这样的契而不舍,在家里孝顺父母遵重兄长,勤劳,贤惠,内敛忍耐她样样做得很好,她对同学同事的关系也处理的非常好从不与人争执。一直到1993年出国前往美国,似梅一直是给我这样的印象。

  20. 吴荻 October 9, 2019

    似梅出生在我国最困苦的年代,但很可爱我们一家都很爱护她。在托儿所,保育员也特别喜她有礼貌.爱笑.将自己心爱的“鸡博士"送给小朋友们。当她知道博士的含义后说“长大要做博士"爸爸听了特别高兴。在童年学习一贯刻苦认真成绩优良,经常主动帮助学习有困难的同学。在读中学时就想往长大能当一名教师。她生长的年代是祖国极不安定的时代。而她克服了重重困难,坚定地沿着理想的道路奋勇前进!在实现理想的过程中,从不气馁,生活严谨,热情友好,乐善好施,孝敬父母,勤奋工作。

  21. Sherrie Serros October 9, 2019

    Simei was sincere in her passion for mathematics and her desire to involve others in math! She was devoted to her family and her math family. Condolences to those families from Sherrie and Charles.

  22. Diane Williamson October 9, 2019

    What a privilege it was to know Simei. We met her when she first arrived in Oklahoma. She was a special part of our lives for many years. It was a joy to see her concern for her Chinese friends and family and to encourage them to learn about Jesus. Xiaowen, please know that Mike and I feel blessed to have been a part of your mother’s amazing life journey. It’s so wonderful that she was able to meet her precious granddaughter before she passed. May the Lord bless you, John, and Amelia.

  23. Wufeng Tian October 9, 2019

    The last time I met Dr. Simei Tong was at the MAA meeting, she had given a wonderful talk about combining math and art and the beauty of math through artistic designs.

    I have always thought and hoped that Dr. Tong could make it and come back. I was very saddened when I saw the message that Dr. Tong passed away. May God give Dr. Tong the comfort and peace and give her family the strength during this difficult time.

  24. Marc Goulet October 9, 2019

    Simei was a very special colleague. Her passion for mathematics was only surpassed by the care for her students and the attention that she paid to them. My deepest sympathies to Xiowen and her family.

  25. Sarah Lewis October 9, 2019

    Dr. Simei Tong Was Very Highly Regarded and Spoken of By My Daughter, Dr. Dandrielle Lewis. Thank You For Your (Simei) Friendship To Her Whilst She Was At Eau Claire Wisconsin. I Pray The Spirit of the Living God Continues To Comfort and Keep You and Your Family During The Passing of Your Mother, Daughter, and Sister.

  26. Angie Stombaugh October 9, 2019

    Simei was an amazing woman. I enjoyed learning from her. She had a passion for teaching students in a way that played to their strengths and encouraged them to think about the world differently. She will be missed.

  27. Maria DaCosta (CFSA Secretary) October 8, 2019

    On behalf of the Chinese Friendship and Scholarship Association, we would like to share our deepest sympathy with Simei’s daughter, Xiaowen, and family. Simei served the organization and the local community with dedication and grace. We will miss her dearly.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

  28. JEAN PRATT October 8, 2019

    My condolences to the family. Simei was a wonderful colleague and will be missed by many across campus.

  29. Jessica Kraker October 8, 2019

    My heart hurts hearing of Simei's passing. Her passion and love for mathematics, quilting, family, church, and community have resounded with me throughout the years, and I am blessed to have known her.

    I am grateful that she was surrounded by those who loved her during her last few weeks. Please know that my prayers are with you, and I hope that you may find healing.

  30. Li-Ying Bao October 8, 2019

    Dr. Simei Tong is an extremely dedicated and hardworking educator and scholar. She constantly pursued interdisciplinary research, and often worked overtime through midnight to ensure excellent learning outcomes for the students. Simei will be missed on the university campus. My condolences to her family and friends.

  31. Ruth Cronje October 8, 2019

    My most sincere condolences to Simei's friends and family. Simei was a passionate and dedicated innovator in sharing her expertise with the wider community and helping students to become engaged in our community. She will be very much missed!

  32. Sue Kleusch October 8, 2019

    So very talented; way too young to pass. My heartfelt condolences go to Simei's family at this most difficult time. May Simei rest in peace!

  33. Diane Carriveau October 8, 2019

    My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your family. Simei's creativity and passion for sharing quilting with others was an inspiration. She was a wonderful addition to the quilting community and we will miss her presence. Warm thoughts.

  34. Bigang Min October 8, 2019

    I am honored and blessed to have known Simei. Sorry about that loss! May the peace be with her family during this difficult time. My condolences.

  35. Mary Volk October 7, 2019

    I am very sorry for your loss. I knew Simei through my quilt group Clear Water Quilters.
    With Sympathy,
    Mary Volk