Professor copes with death

On what seemed like a normal Tuesday, Lulu Liang, an Economics professor at Pierce College arrived to the school in her navy-blue dress and a blank expression, ready to teach her economics class.

Her students expected her to be present; however, what they didn’t expect next was for her to pull out a black and white photograph of her beloved husband and a Daily newspaper article narrating the events of his death over the weekend.

Jim Liang died Saturday, Oct. 23 instantly after drunk driver hit him as he was riding his bike along Laurel Canyon Road.

Jim’s body was so grotesque after the hit-and-run accident that the coroner wouldn’t allow anyone to see his body, not even Lulu.

Earlier that day Jim had declined his wife’s offer of going to an event with her and some friends. He let his wife know that he was going for a long bike ride and reassured her that he’d be home by the time she’d got back.

“Usually a short ride for him is one hour and a long ride is three hours at the latest,” Lulu said. “Around 4:00 p.m. my heart sank. I kept calling his cell phone and got no answer. Instead I heard a weird noise on the other end.”

Lulu learned later on that evening, when the police returned his items, that the noise from Jim’s phone occurred after the accident caused it to break.

“I still have the clothes he wore that day when he left,” Lulu said with tears in her eyes as she held Jim’s navy-blue Calvin Klein sweatshirt and green sweatpants. “I can still smell his scent.”

Soon after Lulu received the devastating phone call notifying her of her husband’s death, friends and family including Jim’s mom, filled her home.

“I felt like I was going to die that night. I kept thinking being executed would have felt less painful than me losing Jim. I have not slept alone since that night. He was my protector, always making me feel safe. He was such a handsome, wonderful man.”

Though she felt it was the most grueling weekend of her entire life, Lulu still mustered up the courage to go to school the next week, with support of her family, her friends, and her thoughts of Jim.

“I knew I had to do it for Jim. I know he would have wanted me to be strong.”

Jim was one of the first English teachers to teach international students at ELS Language Center when it opened Feb. 2008 on California Lutheran College’s campus. When students and faculty learned the news of his death, they were shocked.

“I still can’t believe it,” said Jaime Haile, who is an Academic Director at ELS. “He was one of the first teachers here and now he’s gone. The faculty still talks about how it’s weird how he’s not around anymore.”

Haile remembers the day when she had to tell the news to his students and continue teaching his lessons.

“The students were so quiet. It was very awkward. I just didn’t know what to say.”

Though silent throughout the lecture, Jim’s students wrote to Lulu letting her know that her husband would be greatly missed.

The widow is currently preparing for her husband’s memorial service that will be held from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. in Lundring Events Center of CLU on Nov. 20. She continues to teach her class every Tuesday at Pierce and dedicates her courage to Jim.

“It’s a miracle for me to be here today. I didn’t realize how important he was to me until he was gone.”