Catherine was the daughter of a wealthy landowner who lived in the country west of Hangzhou. During the spring of her junior year in college, she was visiting a friend in Hangzhou when she unexpectedly met Hu, a general in the Nationalist army. After a storybook whirlwind courtship, Hu proposed marriage to Catherine in June 1937. Japan’s brutal invasion of China began in July. Because they could not get married yet, Hu and Catherine did not reveal their private engagement to anyone.
After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Catherine traveled to the United States, where she earned another Bachelor’s degree, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin in June of 1941. She earned a Master’s and a doctoral degree, passing her oral dissertation defense with flying colors in the spring of 1944, and she immediately made plans to return to China. Her hopes for an early wedding were dashed when Hu told her that the war would last at least another year and then recommended that she begin her teaching career. Finally, after achieving a remarkable victory against Communist forces, Hu sent word for her to join him at a private marriage ceremony in Xi’an.
Catherine gave birth to their first baby, a son, in August, while Hu was recovering from a fall from his horse caused by extreme fatigue. In 1948, Nationalist troops suffered reversals on almost every front. At the end of February 1950, President Chiang sent orders for Hu to fly immediately to Taiwan. Catherine had preceded him with her children. With great reluctance, Hu obeyed, though he was loathe to leave his men to their fate. Catherine had begun attending a Bible study group with Madame Chiang in 1950. In April, 1952, she was baptized. Catherine gave birth to another son, De, in March 1951. Their fourth child, also a daughter, was born in 1954.
Hu left in September of 1955 to take charge of the development and defense of Penghu. He remained without returning home until 1959. Hu died in February of 1962.
After his death, Catherine’s friends offered to send her to the United States with her children, but she chose to remain in Taiwan to serve her country as an educator. Catherine co-founded the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan in 1961. Over the years, she served as Professor, Director, Dean, Dean of Students (of the Department of Home Economics and Graduate School) and Vice-President.
Catherine became president of the Provincial Taipei Normal College, which later became the National Taipei University of Education in 1967. She retired from the National Taipei University of Education in 1980 and returned to the Culture University as Dean of the Department of Home Economics and Dean of Graduate Students. Her generous hospitality to foreign students and others flowed from her profound trust in God to supply all that she and her family needed. Even when she was dying of cancer, instead of obeying her doctor’s orders to rest, she conducted oral examinations and gave feedback on the theses of her graduate students. Four thousand people, including dozens of dignitaries, attended her funeral in August of 1981. Throughout her life, Catherine Hsia-Ti Yeh displayed the same courage, devotion, and self-denying service to others that her beloved General Hu had shown on the battlefield. They were a rare couple, worthy of each other and of the admiration in which multitudes held them, in life and in death.
Dr. Hsia-Ti Yeh Hu Funereal and Memorial Services 1981.
Dr. Hsia-Ti Yeh Hu Funereal and Memorial Services 1981 - YouTube. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Yeh, Catherine Hsia-Ti. Heaven and Earth (Tian Di You You), unpublished English translation by Esther T. Hu, Ph.D., 1965. The Chinese version was reprinted six times in 1965 and was reissued in 1989 and again in 2006.
Hu, Esther T. “Reflections on Grandmother Yeh Hsia-Ti’s Life of Faith.” In President Hsia-Ti Yeh’s Centenary Festschrift [Jiao Ze Liu Fang: Yeh Xiao Zhang Hsia-Ti Bo Shi Bai Sui Dan Chen Ji Nian Wen Ji]. (Chinese Culture University and the National Taipei University of Education, 2014), 194-209.