Richard H Chiu Biography

Chapter 3Marriage, Family, and Early Career Moves

Once they were both living in Salt Lake City Richard called Pat Heywood and arranged to take her out. "She was a very striking, statuesque woman who also had a refreshing attitude toward life which was more idealistic than most people I had met. We often had intellectual discussions on a variety of subjects and I found her a very charming conversationalist. I found we were both unconventional and were able to accept the challenge of an interracial marriage."

Pat and Richard wanted to be married in an LDS temple, but at that time most western states had laws against 'miscegenation' particularly between orientals and caucasians. In May of 1962 they drove from Salt Lake City, Utah to Los Angeles, California in Richard's first car, a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a symbol of his ability to earn and enjoy a relatively high salary.

They stayed with Pat's cousin in Monterey Park, California and applied for a California Marriage license. They discovered that Pat would have to have her birth certificate in order to be married without her parent's permission. She called her mother who dispatched the birth certificate by airmail. They visited various tourist attractions such as Marineland while they waited for the document to arrive.

On the first morning that they attempted to reach the temple they had a fender bender on the freeway and pulled off to report the accident. Richard's car had only minor damage, but a lot of damage had occurred to the other car. After contacting the police and waiting for some time no other report was made, but they had missed the time to arrive at the temple. Time was growing short. The following day they would have to meet Pat's brother Mike and travel back to Utah in order for Richard to receive his Master's Degree at the graduation ceremony at BYU. One of Richard's friends at the Highway Department made a card that seemed to predict some of the difficulties they would face.


Determined that they would not be delayed a second time by rush hour traffic, they got up before 3 AM and made their way over empty street to the temple. Once there, they fell asleep in the car in the parking lot and almost missed their appointment in the temple.

Once they were married it was a desperate scramble to pick up Mike who was a marine stationed in California and make their way back to Utah in time for all the events that would follow in short order. Mike enjoyed driving the Thunderbird and testing the upper ranges of its speed as they raced through the desert and the little towns in the middle of the night. In the space of two days there was a wedding reception and a graduation ceremony.


Richard's younger sister, Donna, had eloped to Baltimore with Kent Briggs, a former missionary to Taiwan who had met her there. Because of opposition to her marriage by her mother-in-law, Donna was living in the apartment that Richard and Pat had prepered for themselves in an old apartment building at the head of main street across from the DUP museum.

It made for a dramatic situation and eventually Donna was invited to live with Pat's parents where she helped with the care of Roxie Taylor, Pat's aging grandmother.

Meanwhile, Pat took classes at the University of Utah and Richard found success in his employment with the Highway Department. A severe storm ripped off portions of the roof of their apartment and they moved to an apartment only half a block away where they decorated an alcoved to accommodate a crib mattress.

On March 8, 1963, just 9 and a half months after he had married Pat, Richard became a father for the first time when his oldest daughter Margaret Tzu-yun Chiu was born. She had dark silky hair and big wide-set eyes and weighed 7 pounds. She was also very noisy for a certain portion of the night. Sometimes she would quiet when she was taken for a ride and Pat and Richard often took midnight drives during those first months.


"Before we were married we had prepared a list of twelve possible names for our future children. Meg and David were my joy in the years when my activites were more home centered."

When Meg was four months old Richard decided to look for work in California. He felt that he would make better wages there and Richard, Pat, Meg, and Pat's mother Margaret, drove to California to see what might be available. Although he did not find a job working for the California Deparment of Highways as he had hoped, Richard eventually obtained a position as a civil engineer with the Navy at Port Hueneme, California.

The family moved for the third time in less than two years. Not long after moving to Port Hueneme, Richard decided it would be wise to buy a home. In march 1964 he found a gold stucco rambler in Oxnard, California just a few miles for Port Hueneme.


As part of becoming a homeowner Richard discovered a facet of American life that was very different from his life in China. Most Americans expect to participate in the upkeep of their home and he started with a few small projects. He put up a decorative frame around the front window of the garage which greatly improved the appearance of the front of the house and used leftover pieces of plywood to make a food storage cabinet that was intended to dispense cans by gravity feed. He began to assemble a set of tools to go with his new status as an American citizen.

Richard's sister Donna had moved to Canada after her marriage was annulled and she met a Chinese restaurant owner named Gene Mah. They flew to Los Angeles to be married in 1964 and Pat and Richard drove down with Meg to attend the wedding.


Not long after moving to California Pat realized that she was expecting another child. Richard's research on the wind resistance of military signal towers required that he travel throughout the pacific for some time. When he returned he brought a string of pearls from Japan which he gave to Pat. A short time later their first son, David, was born on December 24, 1964.

Richard had arranged to pay the down payment for the house as a second mortgage in six months and he had undertaken to put up a bond of several thousand dollars so that his brother Mark could come to the USA and study engineering at the BYU. This required a strict budget but Pat and Richard had started their married life with a good car, nice furnishings, and solid employment.