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Feeling part of an old woman's family

By Yang Guang (China Daily)

09:00, June 27, 2012

Stanley Crawford says Wang Huanwen, a 94-year-old retired pediatrician in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, is "one of the fondest memories" he has of China.

When Crawford visited China to retrace the steps of his great-great-grandfather, Virgil Hart, he found out about Wang, the physician who has worked in two of the hospitals Hart, a Methodist missionary, founded in China, through a newspaper reporter in 2008.

On their first meeting, Wang talked about her connections with the former Wuhu General Hospital (now Yijishan Hospital of the Wannan Medical College) in Wuhu, Anhui province, and how she later moved to Jiujiang to work at the former Elizabeth Skelton Danforth Hospital (now renamed Jiujiang Women and Children's Hospital).

Both were founded by Hart, who was with the American Methodist Episcopal Church.

"At first she had difficulty speaking English," Crawford remembers, "but later she was able to rattle off short phrases after not having spoken it for over 50 years."

Crawford visited Wang regularly once a month until she broke her leg and could not get out of bed in the winter of 2009.

Wang was the daughter of a small hotel proprietor. She studied at the Wuhu General Hospital School of Nursing in 1936, after she was orphaned.

"She talked about how she used to roller skate on the roof of the hospital and had her first kiss overlooking the Yangtze River during a sunset," Crawford says. After graduating from nursing school in 1940, she worked at the former Shanghai

Country Hospital (now renamed Huadong Hospital), where she married a Chinese pastor.

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