Archetypes: Harold Law
An interview with Harold Law, Ph.D., who came to the United States alone as a Chinese refugee in 1956, worked his way through college and eventually earned a Doctor of Science degree in engineering from Washington University in 1975. A founder of the St. Louis Christian Chinese Community Service Center, Law has devoted his life to serving the community by helping the elderly, new immigrants and underprivileged in St. Louis’ Chinese-American communities. His voluntary service has been continuously recognized over the years. He was honored with the Washington University Gerry & Bob Virgil Ethic of Service award in 2010 and named the St. Louis Minority Small Business Person of the Year in 1994. Also active in civic affairs, Law served as president of the St. Louis Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans for two years and worked closely with the mayor of the city to raise Asian-American and Native American minority status in the job market. Since being diagnosed with cancer last year, Law is steadily recovering and continues to teach elders in his church.
What is your current frame of mind? Recuperating and relaxed.
When and where are you happiest? When I am with my family. I have four children and three grandchildren.
What is your favorite smell? Vanilla and baked bread.
What is one word that describes you? Workaholic.
What did you eat for breakfast today? Oatmeal.
What is your most marked characteristic? I’m easygoing.
What is your greatest weakness? Procrastination.
What trait do you most admire in others? Quick decision-making.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life? My wife and my children. As I write my memoir, I’m becoming more appreciative of my wife, Helena.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I had received more career counseling from my parents when I was growing up.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? That I am able to know the community and have the influence on it that I’ve had.
Which living person do you most admire? Billy Graham.
With which historical figure do you most identify? The founding father of the Republic of China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it would be? I would have liked to have been an explorer of the West.
What is your most treasured possession? I wouldn’t say “possession,” but I treasure my family.
What is your greatest extravagance? Cruises.
What is your greatest fear? Losing my health. I was diagnosed with lymphoma one year ago. I am better now, but it is only after I lost my health that I fear losing it again.
On what occasion do you lie? If I want to protect my reputation, I may hold back information.
Who are your favorite writers? I read topics, not necessarily certain authors. Most recently I’ve been most interested in the early Chinese immigrants [to the US], so I’ve read many books about them, including ones by Iris Chang and Helen Zia.
Which artists do you admire most? Baroque music and ragtime.
What is your favorite hobby? I don’t really have any hobbies.
Where would you like to live? I like to live in St. Louis. I can get anything I need. It has small-town flavor and big-town accessibility.
Who are your heroes in real life? People who break new ground while serving other people.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? My father.
What are you most looking forward to? A family reunion.
What is one thing you wish would happen? That I gain my health back quickly.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? To do some research on the early Chinese immigrants, and to visit Northwest China.
If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be? Explore your interests in many different areas.
‘Archetypes’ are off-the-cuff interviews with St. Louis' most inspiring, well-known personalities based on the 19th century Parisian parlor game known as the Proust Questionnaire.
Photo credit: Wesley Law