April 2021

Henry, my Brother

Henry C. Lim was one of my dearest friends. We were like brothers. Now, he is gone. I miss him!

Professor Lim's achievements as an educator, a researcher and an academician will be written by many, his students, colleagues and others. I will write some private things between him and me.

We worked together often when we both were on the faculty of Purdue University. Henry often helped me with mathematical materials. He once suggested to me, said "George, when you write papers for publication, it will be nice to put some mathematical equations in the front end of your papers. It often impresses readers."He was so very right. However, I said "Henry, unlike your interests in control theories, my field of biochemical engineering and fermentation technology just do not have many mathematical equations to write. We often describe in very details our experimental procedures. We need to specify what the nutrients used in growing our microbe cells, such as 2 grams per liter ammonium sulfate, 20 grams of glucose, etc., unimpressive stuff."

Around 1970-72, I was on assignment as a "Rotator"on leave from Purdue to work at the US National Science Foundation to help manage several funding research programs. That was also the time we had a short-lived peace between the US and USSR. Scientific exchange is often the "thing"to do to show being peaceful between two conflicting countries. Enzyme Technology was one of programs I was managing and was selected as the subject for scientific exchange between the two countries. I happened to be the Manager of that program and I became the team leader with a team of six experts to visit Soviet Union. I asked Professor Henry C. Lim as one of the team members. After some good exchanges at the Moscow State University in Moscow and the Hydrolysis Institute in Saint Petersburg, the hosts gave us a banquet in the evening before our team to return to the US. Soviets could not overdo us on enzyme technology, they tried to overdo the Americans with drinking of vodka. So, in that evening, we had toasts after toasts with undiluted vodka with no ice.

By the time to quit, all Soviets were drunken, Henry was about half-way there and I was the only American delegate still ready for more toasts. My background in fermentation was put to full use! Henry was half in control theory and half in biotech. Now, after retirement, I often do home brew for enjoyment for my myself and my wife but not for gasohol. I sometimes do think about our anti-Soviet effort in that banquet.

Around 1978-79 when Communist China finally allowed foreign visitors. I was among the first to apply visa to go visit my birthplace. One day, Henry came to me seriously ask for a favor from me. I asked him "What you want?"Henry said seriously "Knowing you soon going to China, my mother asked me to ask you to make sure to buy for her a supply of a Chinese medicine called ." I happily had that mission accomplished.

Later, on another occasion, Professor Henry C. Lim and I were members of a scientific team visiting China. Another Korean, Professor YY Lee (my doctoral student when I was on the faculty at Iowa State University), was also among our group. We had a visit to Souzhou, a city famous for silk embroidery. I bought a piece of silk work called with identical designs on both sides of the silk in different colors. When the team traveled to Beijing, after the meetings, Professor Lee wanted to leave the team to use the opportunity to go back to Korea for a short visit. He regret that he did not buy a piece of silk to take to Korea. So, I said "YY, just take my silk to go. "YY resisted the offer. I insisted and YY resisted again. Finally, I said "Look, YY you have given me so many boxes of Korean ginseng over the years. This little silk piece just a token from me. I will likely come back to Souzhou again."YY finally accepted and left for Korea. Afterward, Henry Lim asked me privately "YY often sends you ginseng as gifts?"I replied "Ya..., it is really good to have some Korean graduate students."

Henry, my brother. Now, you left. I miss you!

Dr. George T. Tsao, Professor Emeritus, School of Chemical
Engineering, Purdue University