Winston Ho 何嶸.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick,
Departments of History and Asian Languages and Cultures
2016 Oct. 28, Friday (revised 2018 May 21, Monday).
[Shaie-mei Temple in 2000.]
Shaie-mei Temple 鄧霞梅 (1949 → 2002) was an important leader in the Chinese and Taiwanese communities in New Orleans during the 1980s and 1990s. She was the founder and first president of the New Orleans chapter of the Organization of Chinese American Women (OCAW) 紐奧良美華婦女會, former principal of the Academy of Chinese Studies in New Orleans 紐奧良中文學校, former president of the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of New Orleans 紐奧良台灣商會, and co-founder and chief editor of a Chinese language newspaper in New Orleans, the Louisiana Hua Fong News 《路州華風報》 from 1991-1993.
[New Orleans Academy of Chinese Studies Certificate of Completion in 1991, when Shae-mae Temple was principal.]
She was an officer in the New Orleans Chinese Association 紐奧良華人聯誼會, the Taiwanese Association of New Orleans 紐奧良台灣商會, and the Louisiana Asian Chamber of Commerce 路州亞洲商會, and a community representative in the Asian Pacific American Society of New Orleans (APAS). She was also an activist in the greater New Orleans community, as a former chairwoman of the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC), and a board member on the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the United Way, and the Southeastern Louisiana Girl Scout Council.
[First issue of the Louisiana Hua Fong News, July of 1991, listing Shaie-mae Temple as the editor-in-chief.]
Born Deng Shaie-mae 鄧霞梅 in Taipei, Taiwan 臺灣台北市, Temple graduated from high school in Benghazi, Lybia, and completed a masters degree in nuclear engineering in the early 1970s at the Lowell Technological Institute in Massachusetts. There were few female nuclear engineers in the United States at the time, let alone foreign-born female nuclear engineers. Temple was a former resident of Atlanta, but moved to New Orleans after divorcing her husband. She worked for the Entergy Corporation, and later founded her own successful consulting practice. She was a 20 year resident of New Orleans and Algiers.
By the year 2000, Temple had started working on a major research project on the history of Chinese Americans in New Orleans. Temple was among the first researchers to rediscover the Chinese Tomb in St. Louis No. 1, one of the earliest Chinese tombs in the American South, and she was among the first to write about New Orleans Chinatown since its destruction in 1937. Temple was also among the first to conduct a major oral history project with the Chinese and Asian American communities in Louisiana.
[Shaie-mae Temple in 2001.]
Temple was rumored to be writing a book on the history of the Chinese in New Orleans, and in 2001, she produced a 7-minute video biography of her own life, which may have been an attempt to secure grant funding, possibly for a full-length documentary. This video was produced with a professional video and editing team through her connections with NOVACs. Temple was also waging a losing battle against the New Orleans City Council to preserve its last surviving storefronts at the end of Tulane Avenue, where Chinatown once existed. This battle led to her creation of the “Asian Bayou” website, one of the earliest websites dedicated to the history of the Chinese in the city.
Sadly, Shaie-mei Temple passed away unexpectedly in 2002 at the age of 52, and most of her research was lost. The 7-minute video of her life is one of the only surviving documents produced from her research. This video had been missing since 2002, but it was rediscovered by NOVACs in their archives in 2012. We believe Temple may have produced more videos, but they remain missing to this day. I created the History of Chinese Americans in New Orleans website partly to continue her research, and it is dedicated to her memory.
“Bayou Lotus,” Interview with Shaie-mei Temple. 2001. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2r6lcSZSM4
“Shaie-me Temple, 52, Engineer and Activist.” Times Picayune (2002 Jan. 27): p. B4.
Elie, Lolis Eric. “City Loses Key Chinese Culture Lover.” Times Picayune (2002 Jan. 28): p. B.
Asian Pacific American Society of New Orleans (APAS). Asian Bayou, Shaie-mei Temple Tribute Page. http://www.apasnola.com/page-1353227
Temple, Shaie-mei. Asian Bayou, “Discovering The Forgotten New Orleans Chinese Quarter.” http://www.apasnola.com/page-1353228
Huafong News 《路州華風報》. The archives for this paper are currently located at the Louisiana Collections of the University of New Orleans.