Obituary: Hongxiang (Harry) Chen 陈鸿祥

March 10, 2024
Photograph of man with Chinese features, formally dressed.
Photo courtesy of Acton Funeral Home.

Following a more than 15-years battle with frontotemporal dementia, Hongxiang (Harry) Chen 陈鸿祥 of Acton, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Saturday, January 20th, 2024 at the age of 67. He was born on September 14, 1956 in Fuzhou, China to 陈振亚 Chen Zhenya and 王淑贞 Wang Suzhen. He received his bachelor’s in mathematics from Nanjing Meteorology College in 1982. He then pursued a master’s in computer science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1989 and a master’s in mathematics from Dartmouth College in 1991. Harry went on to become an accomplished software engineer for over 20 years.

Harry had a deep appreciation for the great outdoors and traveled to many national parks across the United States, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Denali, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, and many more. He also enjoyed traveling around the world to places such as Australia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Greece, and many other countries in Europe. He loved to swim, having grown up by the sea, and taught both his daughters their first strokes in the water. He enjoyed spending quality time with family and friends, playing games like Chinese chess, gong zhu, badminton, and ping pong together. He was a very active member of book clubs and loved to read widely.

As a longtime resident of Acton, Harry was the first principal of the Acton Chinese Language School (ACLS), a nonprofit aimed at fostering an education and appreciation in Chinese language and culture. Since its beginnings in 2003, ACLS has built an enduring community of friendship within the Greater Boston area—a testament to Harry’s vision and an example of his lasting legacy.

ACLS was one part of Harry’s mission to increase the visibility and presence of the Chinese community in Acton and beyond. Harry served as a board member of the Acton Chinese-American Civic Society, a nonprofit promoting civic engagement and cultural enrichment, and volunteered at the Acton Food Pantry and Friends of Acton Libraries. He also spearheaded efforts to promote Chinese representation on the Acton and Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee.

Harry is survived by his wife, two children, and granddaughter. He is also survived by his younger brother and three sisters.

Acton Chinese Language School invites everyone to contribute to a special edition dedicated to Harry’s life and contributions to the community. Photos and remembrances can be submitted to

Two years ago, the family donated a bench in honor of Harry by the China Trail Garden in the Acton Arboretum. His family welcomes visitors to sit and spend some time with him there.

[Visiting hours were held on January 28 at the Acton Funeral Home.]

In lieu of flowers, we welcome donations to Acton Chinese Language School with a note “in memory of Harry Chen” and mail the check to P.O. Box 2239, Acton, MA 01720. You can also donate online via Zelle to


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