R.I.P.

Mdme Chiang Kai-Shek

Died October 23rd, 2003

TAIPEI (AFP) - Former first lady of China Soong Mayling brought a tumultuous chapter in modern Chinese history to a close when she died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 106.

The widow of Taiwan military strongman Chiang Kai-shek died at her home in the New York beach suburb of Long Island where she had lived since 1991, her granddaughter-in-law Fang Chih-yi told reporters here Friday. She had been gravely ill since February.

"She passed away peacefully ... we wish from the bottom of our hearts that her soul would bless the country and people she loved dearly," Fang Chih-yi said.

A modern-day empress nicknamed the "Dragon Lady", Soong Mayling was born in Shanghai in 1898 to wealthy Protestant industrialist Charlie Soong. Her father began life as a missionary and built up a trading empire in Shanghai's boom years, sending Mayling, the youngest of his three daughters, to be educated at exclusive American women's college Wellesley.

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