Louise Xu (Xu Haili) was born in New York City on August 15, 1893. She was the oldest daughter of Xu Qin (Huie Kin), pastor of the First Chinese Presbyterian Church in New York City, and Louise Van Arnam. She graduated from Hunter College in New York City and married Zhang Fuliang at her family’s church on July 15, 1915.
The newlyweds sailed form San Francisco to China, where Zhang taught at Yale-in-China (Yali) in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. They became parents of five children, two sons and three daughters.
In 1926 Zhang went with his family to the United States for one year to obtain an MA in Agronomy at the University of Georgia at Athens. After they returned to China, they settled near his brother’s family in Shanghai. Zhang soon was named rural secretary of the National Christian Council and began traveling throughout the country.
In 1934 Zhang was chosen to become the director of Rural Welfare Service the Jiangxi Province. The family was separated while he was working in Nanchang, Jiangxi, with his oldest daughter in Yanjing University in Beijing, his sons preparing for Yali at Boone Middle School in Wuhan, and Louise and three youngest children in Shanghai. During the latter part of World War II, Louise was employed by the Christian Mission Board.
After the war, Zhang worked with the Chinese-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction (JCRR). During the first six months of 1949, Zhang was the JCRR director for Changsha and he and Louise lived once more on the Yali campus.
In November 1949, Zhang and Louise flew to Hong Kong. They sailed the next year in April for the United States. In the summer of 1951, Zhang began teaching sociology at Berea College in Kentucky. He and Louise hosted visitors from seventy countries, who came to see rural development in the mountainous areas of Kentucky. Though Zhang retired from teaching in 1959 at the age of seventy, he and Louise continued to care for international visitors.
The Zhangs spent their later years with their children in Northeast United States. Zhang Fuliang died in 1984 and Louise died in 1991. They are buried in Northford, Connecticut.
- Stacey Bieler, “The Xu Family: A Legacy of Service” in Salt and Light: More Lives of Faith That Shaped Modern China, edited by Carol Lee Hamrin with Stacey Bieler, 86-89.