Fred Feng Hsiao passes away at age 91
(June 24, 2010) – Hsiao, Feng (Fred Shaw), a community icon and co-founder of Shaw-Lundquist Associates, and one of the eldest Chinese Americans in Minnesota, passed away at his Richfield home the morning of June 21, 2010. He was 91. Hsiao is survived by his wife Jennie, three sons, Howell and Nina Shaw; Hoyt and Zhen Zhen Luo Hsiao; Holden and Yu Wen) Hsiao; and three grandchildren, David, Julian and Isabel.
Hsiao had reportedly made a recent trip to his home village in China, and had celebrated a wonderful Father’s Day with his family on June 20. He went to sleep and never woke up.
Visitation will be held Monday, June 28, 2010, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Washburn McReavy Edina Chapel, 5000 West 50th Street & Hwy 100 in Edina. The Funeral Service will be held Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 5:00 p.m. following a 4:00 p.m. visitation at Christ Presbyterian Church, 6901 Normandale Road, Edina. A Reception will follow the Service.
The internment will be held Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 10:00 a.m. beginning at Washburn McReavy Edina Chapel, with a procession to Lakewood Cemetery, 3600 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the University of Minnesota Foundation – Jennie and Fred Hsiao Scholarship Fund #5633, in care of the University of Minnesota Foundation, McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street SE, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55455-2010. Call 612-624-3333 or 800-775-2187 for information.
The Fred Hsiao story
By Howell Shaw
Fred Feng Hsiao was born in Xian, China, on May 19, 1919, into a highly respected family. His father was the mayor of the city and was a visionary businessman dealing in cotton, grains, and finance.
Fred’s nickname was “Chang-Chang” meaning “open heart.” He was the fourth of eleven children and enjoyed playing soccer after working in his family’s fields. His father taught him to be disciplined, to study hard, to work hard and to be kind and generous to others. He became a Christian through the efforts of missionaries that visited his hometown and kept his faith for the rest of his life.
Proving himself to be an exceptional student, he attended National Wuhan University in Hubei Province and in 1944 graduated at the top of his class. By coincidence, the testing center for the Chinese National Examinations was in the same city, and Fred’s father advised him to sit for the exam. He did well and was given the opportunity to attend the university of his choice in the United States.
Coming to America
With the support of his father, Fred began his journey to America in the winter of 1944. Due to the Japanese occupation of the China coast, he was forced to take a flight over the Himalayan Mountains to India. There he boarded a U.S. Navy transport that brought him to the west coast of the United States. He then took a train cross-country to Boston, Massachusetts. Fred finally arrived at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in January of 1945.
When not studying, he could be found swimming in the indoor pool and enjoying apple pie at the school cafeteria. He graduated from MIT with a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering in 1946.
Coming to Minnesota
With the intention of solving the torrential Yellow River flooding in his homeland, and on the advice of his father to stay in America during the Communist revolution, Fred decided to pursue his Ph.D. in Hydraulic Engineering. In 1947, he continued his studies under Dr. Strub, the world-famous professor of hydraulics, with a lab based at the University of Minnesota.
There Fred met Orville Madsen while attending church, and in 1949, Madsen offered him a position at his construction company as a part-time estimator working out of his basement. Fred proved himself to be very good at his trade, and in 1951 became a full-time employee. He was soon promoted to Chief Estimator, Vice President, and in 1954, became a member of the Board of Directors.
Fred was responsible for growing Orville E. Madsen & Sons from a home-based business to one of the most respected contractors in the metropolitan area. He was a founder of the Chinese Christian Fellowship at the University of Minnesota, and was a founding elder of the Twin Cities Chinese Christian Church. He was also an avid sports fan and faithfully cheered on his beloved Gophers, Twins, Vikings and Timberwolves.
Marriage and Family
Encouraged by one of his classmates, Fred began corresponding with Jennie Ho, an attractive undergraduate student at National Taiwan University in 1956. A romance blossomed, and in April 1958, Fred drove to San Francisco to bring Jennie back to Minneapolis.
They were married two months later on June 7, 1958 and moved into a small house in Richfield. When Jennie became pregnant, Fred bought a three-bedroom house in a new development in Fridley, and the couple moved in during the winter of 1960.
On May 19, 1961, their first child, Howell, was born. On February 24, 1965, their second child, Hoyt, was born.
The family would survive the tornado of 1965 that completely leveled their home. In 1970, they moved to West Bloomington, and on February 6, 1976, their third child, Holden, was born.
In 1988, Fred moved his family to Edina to take advantage of the highly ranked public school system. After all his children grew up, he and Jennie downsized to a comfortable condo back in Richfield, near where they began.
Fred truly loved his adopted home state, and was proud to be a Minnesotan. He always took the opportunity to express his appreciation for the climate that kept him healthy and the people that accepted and embraced him as an outsider. He always felt that he was treated equitably.
When Orville E. Madsen and Sons moved to Wisconsin in 1974, Fred and his good friend and co-worker Lyle Lundquist decided to stay in Minneapolis. Together they founded Shaw-Lundquist Associates, Inc.
Shaw-Lundquist opened in the same Madsen office in the downtown Minneapolis Sexton Building when they moved out on June 30, 1974. They retained the receptionist and even the same office furniture.
Fred’s reputation for integrity and honesty preceded him, and he received a contractor’s bonding immediately and hit the ground running. With Fred in the office and Lyle in the field, the company successfully completed project after project, and Shaw-Lundquist quickly earned the respect of the local construction industry.
In 1984, Lyle retired and Fred took sole control of the company. In the same year, the company moved its base of operations to a leased space in Eagan and celebrated their award as the Minority Supplier of the Year. In 1987, Hoyt joined Shaw-Lundquist and began modernizing operations.
Ten years later, Shaw-Lundquist built and occupied its very own facility on West Service Road.
Holden joined the company in 1999. And finally, Howell, his eldest son, joined the company in 2005.
Under Fred’s leadership, the company grew to annual revenues of over $80,000,000 and was recognized as the largest certified minority contractor in the Midwest. It was also the largest certified Asian-owned contractor in the nation.
Fred was inducted into the National Association of Minority Contractor’s Hall of Fame in 2004 and was the inaugural inductee into the Metropolitan Economic Development Association’s Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame in 2005.
The Associated General Contractors of Minnesota also honored Fred at age 90 with its prestigious 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award on October 2009, just as Fred became Chairman and his son Hoyt took over as President.
Fred’s construction legacy includes such well-known projects as the Minnesota Veterans Home, the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Home Depot in Richfield, the Brookdale Regional Center and Library, the Como Park Visitor and Education Center, the University of Minnesota Ridder Ice Hockey Arena and Baseline Tennis Center, the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport A & C Concourse, and the Minnesota Department of Health/Agriculture Laboratory.
One of the most important lessons Fred learned from his father was to be generous and give back to his community.
Fred and Jennie Hsiao devoted much of their time and financial resources to the Chinese American Association of Minnesota and the Chinese Senior Citizens Society. He was a founding member of the Chinese American Business Association of Minnesota and served as President.
In 2008, Fred received the Contribution to Chinese Community Award from the Chinese Heritage Foundation. In that same year, Fred and Jennie were major contributors to the Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota to support the instruction of the Chinese language in Elementary to High Schools across the state.
Fred was a founding member of the National Association of Minority Contractors – Upper Midwest Chapter and served as Vice President and Treasurer. He was widely known for his availability to Minority Contractors for business advice and encouragement.
Fred highly valued education and wished to help others in their pursuit of knowledge. To that end, he and Jennie created the “Jennie and Fred Hsiao Scholarship Fund” through the University of Minnesota Foundation at the China Center in 2001.
The scholarship is awarded to U of M students traveling to China for their studies. Over forty students have benefited from this scholarship to date.
In 2006, Fred and Jennie established the “Jennie and Fred Hsiao Fellowship Fund” through the University of Minnesota Foundation at the China Center to support Chinese national students in Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, or Architecture to attend the U of M.
2 thoughts on “Fred Feng Hsiao passes away at age 91”
I lived on the same block as Fred.
Shaw and his wife Jennie Hsiao in front of their home at 6238 Newton Ave South, Richfield 1958
I went to school with Howell Hsaio in Bloomington and visited their home often. I remember Hoyt as well as their parents. They are a lovely family and I’m glad to have known them. Great writing Howell. You were always the smartest in our group of friends.