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Nick Y. Liu (Yang Ning)

Nick Y. Liu, 55, died on July 16, 2017 after a short but fierce battle with leukemia. He leaves behind his wife, Kristen Day, daughters Katrina Yang-Wen and Serena Yang-Lin Day, mother Zhang Wenjin of Beijing, sister Yang Lan of Arlington, brother Yang Jing and nephew Yang Chenghan, both of Beijing. Nick enjoyed a long career as a contract manager and financial analyst at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

He was born May 22, 1962, in Beijing China, during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution. The son of a Chinese diplomat, he was largely raised by his maternal grandparents in the city of Tianjin. Nick received a B.A. from the Tianjin Foreign Languages Institute and was admitted to a special inter-cultural communications program at Peking University, where he received a 2nd B.A. He subsequently worked in the protocol division of the Cultural Ministry, where he handled logistics for the visits of foreign luminaries, such as Luciano Pavarotti, to China. He so distinguished himself in this role, that in 1988 he became a Cultural Attaché and diplomat, posted to Chinese Embassy in Washington DC. In 1986, he married Hao Li, who remained in China during Nick’s overseas assignment, and from whom he was divorced in mid-1989.

Nick was very deeply impacted by the events of Tiananmen Square that occurred on June 4, 1989. On July 4th that year, he made a life-altering decision to leave the Chinese Embassy, and he was granted political asylum in the United States. This decision had a profoundly negative effect on his family in China, which Nick spent the rest of his life trying to rectify. He remained loyal and devoted to his family in Beijing, helping in any way he could.

Nick met Kristen at a reception at the Chinese Embassy in April,1989. She did not know him well, but it was she whom Nick called on July 4th after he decided to leave the Embassy. From that point forward, Nick worked to establish a new life, to survive in a place where he had no transferable skills and, at one point, just $20 to his name. He worked multiple jobs, eventually earning a master’s degree in business from John’s Hopkins University. He passed the CPA exam to become an accountant. His ties to the U.S. Small Business Administration began in 1989, where he first began working as a go-fer at the SBA Receivership Office.

After Kristen moved to Hong Kong in 1993, Nick ultimately decided to quit his job and join her there, notwithstanding the dangers given his background and the fact that he was legally stateless. In 1995, they were married in Hawaii. Nick and Kristen relocated back to the U.S. in 1997, prior to the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. He became a US citizen in 1998.

Nick resumed his life in the U.S. with gusto, with a profound appreciation and gratitude to the U.S. for the opportunity he was afforded to pursue the American dream. He worked long and hard hours as a federal contractor. He joined the SBA as an employee in 2001, when Kristen was expecting their first child. Nick remained a dedicated SBA employee for the rest of his life.

Nick’s greatest love and passion was for his two daughters, Katrina Yang Wen and Serena Yang Lin, who were the light of his life. He meticulously recorded every moment of their lives. From the time they were in pre-school, he drove them to school every day possible and made them hot breakfast every morning. He never missed a recital or performance, and he loved taking them skiing, on adventure ropes courses, and on father/daughter trips within the U.S and overseas. Recently, Nick was deeply committed to preparing Katrina to qualify for her driver's license. He displayed immense patience when allowing her to practice driving with him. He grilled her favorite food, steak, on July 11th, with no hint of illness, to celebrate her 16th birthday. The sun rose and set around his girls, who miss him dearly.

Nick’s other passions included spending time with friends over a beer, watching movies, reading, and history - especially related to World War II and Cuba. In recent years, he became an avid marksman, regularly spending time at the gun range.

The family will receive friends on July 30 from 4-6 pm, to be followed on July 31st by a bilingual service to celebrate Nick’s life at 10:30 am. These will be held at the Demaine Funeral Home, 10565 Main Street, Fairfax VA 22030. In lieu of flowers, donations in Nick’s name are preferred to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (, 888-557-7177).