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News from the Hill October 20, 2014 | back to index

In Memoriam: Lily Tu, Class of 1949


Andover Newton notes with sadness that beloved alumna Lily C. Tu (’49) passed away peacefully in her home in West Barnstable, Mass., on Sept. 30, 2014, at the age of 92.

Lily was the eldest of eight children born to Mary and Thomas Chin of Lewiston, Maine, and earned her bachelor’s degree at Boston University before attending Andover Newton with the support of a scholarship from the American Baptist Churches.

She received Andover Newton’s Spirit of the Hill award in 2009, six decades after her graduation from the seminary, and was a member of the school’s Heritage Society.

While in the Boston area, Lily sang with the Handel & Haydn Society and Sara Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston. A prize-winning ballroom dancer, Lily was a pioneer in liturgical dance, which was the topic of her master’s thesis and a form she enjoyed teaching to younger generations. She served as choreographer for television shows and college theater productions throughout New England after graduating from Andover Newton.

Lily was also an actress, appearing in Otto Preminger’s Academy Award-winning film The Cardinal, part of which was filmed in Boston. Her career in real estate saw her carrying out sales in excess of $1 million a year in the 1970s, and she was regularly the sales associate of the month with The Berg Agency in East Brunswick. In 1979, she was named president of the Rutgers University Parents Council.

The National Conference of Christians and Jews (now the National Conference for Community and Justice) honored Lily in 1984 for her work on interfaith relations, and she won recognition for her work through the City Mission Society’s outreach to Boston’s Chinatown. Racial justice work continued through her life, and in 2007, the Church Women United of Cape Cod honored her volunteer work to “further public safety and racial harmony” as a reserve deputy with the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Department; Lily was then 85.

The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women honored her as an Unsung Heroine in 2006, and in 2007 her community named her Citizen of the Year for “making West Barnstable a better place through her inspiration, dedication, and community spirit.” Also in 2007, the Cape Cod Times profiled Lily in a series on remarkable volunteers.

Lily was preceded in death by her husband, Bob, in 1994. The couple is survived by five daughters and their spouses: Elizabeth and Dean Gittleman, Mary Ann and Keith Gardner, Rebecca and Bob Caloggero, Gloria and Brian Gilbert, and Bobbi and Jim Carbone; six grandchildren: Haley, Bobby, Bryan, Reed, Max and Coleman; and she is remembered by sisters, Bessie and Annie, brothers, Eddie and Jimmy, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

A memorial service was held Saturday, Oct. 4, at the West Parish of Barnstable, Lily’s beloved church. It is Lily’s wish that memorial contributions be made to the West Parish of Barnstable.

View the full obituary and leave condolences in a virtual guest book.