Gail Shen’s Chinatown remembers owner

Friday, February 1, 2008 | 4:46 p.m. CST; updated 3:19 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — The window in the front of Gail Shen’s Chinatown store has accumulated letters, flowers and poems in memory of the gift shop’s owner, who died Tuesday after battling cancer. She was 60 years old.

Shen’s store will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday so Columbia residents can have the opportunity to peruse the shelves one last time. The shop has been a fixture in the Columbia community since its opening in 1978.


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“Whether you were a child or not, when you went to the shop you would become a child again,” said Mirra Greenway, owner of Greenway Massage. Greenway was a neighbor to Chinatown when the store was located on 9th Street in downtown Columbia, and again became a neighbor when both stores relocated to Walnut Street.

“Gail said to me over and over that her shop was really just her gift to the community,” Greenway said. “She was always showing you these teeny tiny things you might overlook until you got her particular perspective on it.”

Gail Shen’s Chinatown is located at 1027 Walnut St. The store will only accept cash for purchases Saturday.

A memorial service will be from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Stephens College cafeteria, located at Stamper Commons, 1300 E. Broadway.

A story about Shen’s life will be in Sunday’s edition of the Columbia Missourian.

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Zoe Cochran February 2, 2008 | 9:53 a.m.

I have lit a candle for you sweet lady
to mark the time I spend with your memories
today. These times, from my past, make me
miss living in Columbia, and being a part of
your life. I loved your smile, your stories,
your art, your way of making others feel
special and loved. I am remembering the
day you stood beside me when I made
my marriage vows. I am remembering the
times you held my child and awed her
with wondrous little toys from your shop.
She was so young when we left Columbia,
she did not remember so much, so yesterday,
I was able to share my memories with her
and to point out all the ways in her life
your art and vision had become a part
of her own life. I am thinking about the light
you must have seen when you crossed
over and the peace you are feeling now.
I also like to imagine that Ken was there
with a smile and a hug, waiting for you.
I hope some day to see you again and
I would not be surprised at all, to find that
you have opened a Chinatown, in heaven~!

blessings and love,

Navasota, TX~~

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