Timothy Ku


PLANO, Texas — Timothy Tao Ku, age 87, died Monday, July 15, 2013 in Plano, Texas. Born in Taochung, China in 1926 to five star General of the Nationalist Chinese Army, C. T. Ku, and Ku Chen-Wong. He was educated in China and the United States, graduating with a B.S. in Forestry from Nanking University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Forestry from Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science in 1950 and 1954, respectively, now Michigan State University (1955).

Timothy Ku’s life commenced 14 years after the founding of the Republic of China in 1912 and spanned a long period of national and social change that included the Northern Expedition against the Communists in Shanghai in 1927, the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1941) and the resulting Japanese Occupation in which he was moved as a boy throughout China ahead of conflict, all of which merged into the significant Pacific Theater of World War II to 1945, and finally the Chinese Civil War which ended in 1949.

Departing China as a student on one of the last passenger boats from pre-revolution Shanghai, China, in 1948, Timothy Ku and several Chinese students including life-long friends and Victoria Feng, whom he later married, came to the United States on student visas. He and Victoria were married at St. Mary’s Church, Barat College of the Sacred Heart, Lake Forest, Illinois on June 17, 1950.

At Michigan State’s School of Forestry, Timothy Ku studied soil science under Prof. T.D. Stevens who was Yale classmates with T.S. Coile, a professor of forestry at Duke and Henry H. Chamberlin founder of Arkansas A&M College’s School of Forestry (University of Arkansas at Monticello, 1972). Those relationships would become enduring.

T. S. Coile had developed a soil mapping technique that assessed and classified forest productivity using statistical analysis that evaluated the attributes of what constituted good land to hold more water and grow taller trees, all of which goes to produce good paper – all during the rise of the pulp paper mills in the 1950s. Coile’s system was highly popular and Timothy Ku traveled in Coile’s employ throughout the Southwest from Georgia to the Big Thicket in Texas, practicing these methods.

In 1959, Henry Chamberlin hired him to teach at Arkansas A&M College. Forestry in Arkansas was ascendant and he was section president of the Ozark Society of American Foresters when the Arkansas-Oklahoma and Missouri-Kansas Regions were being restructured. For a time, he was president of both regions – all while balancing lecture responsibilities at Taiwan University. After many years of teaching and service he was inducted as a member in the Arkansas Forestry Hall of Fame in 1995. He is enrolled as a Fellow of the Arkansas Division of the Society of American Foresters. He was most appreciative of the many energetic, enthusiastic and successful forestry students he taught in diverse courses ranging from soil science, dendrology, entymology, photogrammetry that preceded GPS spatial analysis, and whom he ushered through grueling summer camps in almost 40 years of teaching and research.

Timothy Ku was a lifelong member of St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Warren and St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Monticello where he had served as President of the Parish Council, and sat on the finance committee.

Preceded in death by his parents, an older sister, Chen-Wong, he is survived by his wife, Vicki, sons and their spouses, Larry (M. Karner), Albert (Barbara Stimac), a brother and six sisters and their families: Ku Fu-Sheng (M. Becker), Los Angeles; Gloria Kung (Charles), San Francisco; Kathy Pai (Robert), Verona, NJ; Marianne Shieh (Martin), Taipei; Elizabeth Tao (James), Los Angeles; Lucy Chou (T. T.), Athens, Georgia; Nancy Sum (Ricky), Australia. Deceased sister and her family: Ku Chen-Wong (Er-Dai Chao), two nieces, Marisa Chen (Harry, deceased), Madelaine Lai, (J.T.), J. Y. Chao (wife, deceased), J. C. Chao (deceased). Timothy Ku is also survived by seven nieces, six nephews and 22 great nephews/nieces.

Funeral Mass, open to all, will be 10:00 a.m. Saturday, July 20 at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Monticello, with interment at Oakland Cemetery. Visitation will be 6:00 p.m. Friday at Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home with a Rosary Service to follow at 7:00 p.m., all welcome. Online guestbook www.stephensondearman.com.