Illinois Appellate Court Judge Laura Cha-Yu Liu died Friday after a long battle with breast cancer at age 49.
The first Chinese-American woman to be elected judge in Illinois and the first Asian-American to serve on the Illinois Appellate Court; Liu was known for her work for equal access to the courts for non-English speakers, as well as her volunteer work and awards she garnered in the legal community, her family said in a statement.
She was born July 19, 1966, in downstate Carbondale, where her parents were foreign exchange students. She graduated from Youngstown State University and the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Liu moved to Chicago after graduation to live with relatives, and worked for 19 years as a civil litigation attorney focused on health care and employment law.
Even after being diagnosed with cancer, she continued with her career and won the election to the Circuit Court of Cook County, becoming the first Chinese-American female judge in state history. She primarily worked in the Chancery division. The Illinois Supreme Court later appointed her to the Illinois Appellate Court, where she became the first Asian-American to serve on that court.
Liu is survived by her daughter Sophie, husband Michael Kasper, parents Yih-Wu and Becky Liu, sister Jessica, brother Eric, and her in-laws Dennis and Nancy Kasper.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, April 25, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Michigan Avenue at Delaware Place, Chicago. To honor her memory, the Justice Laura Liu Scholarship Fund has been established at St. Therese Chinese Catholic School for needy children active in community service.
Donations may be made at StThereseChicago.org or mailed to 247 W. 23rd St., Chicago, IL 60616.