Resident Profile: Sallie Lu

As a 92-year old, Sallie Lu does way more than you can imagine.

For many years she accompanied her singing sister, Jane Lu, on the piano at senior centers and at fashion shows in Chinatown. The younger sister died of bone cancer in 2010.

In her memory,  Sallie hand-printed on a scroll in perfect Chinese characters  the lyrics of their favorite song about “the echo of the river in the valley.” We are sitting  in the Francisco Downtown Senior Center and she goes into  the dining room to play it on the piano. The melodious chords echo through the center.

Giving is her nature. Among the bags on her walker are decorated paper hearts she made for spontaneous gifts and mini cloth purses she sewed to hold a Muni Clipper card. She crochets and makes clothes, too.

Born in January 1925 in Shanghai, she learned piano at age 8 and performed on stage six years later. She went on to get a college degree  in accounting in Shanghai  and became a professor of finance and statistics.

“I give back,” the perky little woman says.  Tutoring — once three Berkeley High students for the SATS — became a natural extension.

She came to the U.S. in 1988, having survived breast cancer in 1983. Soon, she arrived at  O’Farrell Towers at 477 O’Farrell,  long before TNDC acquired the 101 one-bedroom Section 8 Senior housing building in 2010. She’s been here 27 years.

“I live independently here and help others,” ’the devout Christian says. “And it’s very important to me to entertain other people.”

From 1994 to 2006 she played piano at church services on Jones Street. Since then,  she plays Saturdays at the San Francisco Evangelical Free Church fellowship at 756 Union St.

Sallie  has a daughter who lives in the city and a granddaughter and grandson and two great grandsons, “with excellent standards.” Her goal for 2017:   write her family history.

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