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“He was extremely humble,” said his son-in-law Michael Lent, who recently came across his father-in-law’s collection of plaques and medals. “A lot of people would have built a glory wall and hung all this stuff, but he would be the last person to do that.” Dr. Pian kept his tucked away in the basement.

Dr. Pian was a kind gentleman, unassuming and thoughtful. His caring and support enriched the lives and launched the careers of many—his students, postdoctoral scholars, and young associates. Their genuine affection and admiration for him were reflected in their enthusiastic participation in the 1990 symposium in tribute to him for his retirement from MIT and at his 90th birthday party in 2008 at his home in Cambridge.

Dr. Pian is survived by his wife Iris Rulan Chao Pian, his daughter Canta of Washington, D.C., his son-in-law Michael Lent, his granddaughter Jessica, his brothers in Tianjin and Australia, numerous nephews and nieces, and a large extended family of accomplished scholars and professionals.


Ted Pian will be sorely missed as a colleague and a friend who always gave us encouragement and support. Though it is Pian’s lifetime achievements we will remember, it is his kindness that we will miss.

We grieve his passing and weep because we loved this kind and gentle man. We see his image standing on the top of a mountain with arms around his chest, gazing into the wind that brushes his hair, pondering better ways to approximate a continuum by discreet elements, and searching the new and wonderful places beyond the horizon.

May God bless Ted Pian, and may he rest in eternal peace. We shall carry on his example.

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