Lilia Chen (born Chunren Chao) was born on August 26, 1925, the eldest of three, into a shoe manufacturing family in Peking (Beijing) China. She attended college in China, majoring in English and education. In 1947, Lilia received a Catholic scholarship to study at LeClerc College in Belleville, IL. In 1948, she transferred to St. Louis University where she met her husband Wen Chao Chen, former professor and acting president of Kalamazoo College. The two bonded over giaozi (Chinese dumplings), married in 1950 and remained so for 62 years until Chen's passing in 2012. Lilia and Chen relocated to Kalamazoo in 1950 and moved into Kalamazoo College's veteran housing units. They welcomed their first son, Michael in 1951 and their second son, Philip in 1958; the same year that Lilia and Chen began their journey to U.S. citizenship through a special provision of the Refugee Relief Acts. Lilia worked as a teacher for Kalamazoo Public Schools for several decades. She was a member of First Baptist Church, a painter and potter and was active in the arts community, particularly the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts (KIA). Affectionately known by her late husband as "The Boss," Lilia was a strong supporter of her husband's 36-year career at Kalamazoo College, and a scholarship for the arts was founded in her name in 2001. Friends and family remember Lilia as the "heart" of the family - warm, supportive, a terrible but very well-intentioned cook, she was always ready with words of encouragement and a few snacks to share. Lilia passed away peacefully at Friendship Village, Kalamazoo, Michigan on July 2, 2019, surrounded by friends and family and to the tune of a dear friend's cello. She is preceded in death by her husband, Wen Chao Chen and her son, Michael Walter Chen. She is survived by her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, Philip, Janet, and Dylan Chen of Ann Arbor, MI, by her daughter-in-law, Monica Chen of St. Charles, IL and by her granddaughters Alice Chen of Oakland, CA and Megan Chen Annandale, VA. A memorial service will be held for Lilia on August 17, 2019 at 11am at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 3926 S 9th St, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009, where friends may visit one hour prior from 10-11am. Those interested in sending flowers or making donations are requested to make a contribution to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 435 W South St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. Arrangements handled by Langeland Family Funeral Homes, 269-343-1508 or https://www.langelands.com.