Loved ones mourn Rego Park tsunami victim

By Cynthia Koons

At Hannah Shi's funeral Friday, stories of her love, friendship and seemingly effortless perfectionism opened a door into a life swept away by the tsunami that swallowed the coast of the Thai island where she was staying Dec. 26. She was one of the first New Yorkers to die in the disaster.”I hear and see all of it so clearly I still cannot comprehend that I will never see her again, and never is a long time,” said Annie Shi, Hannah's 15-year-old sister, at the service in St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue in Manhattan.It was a funeral fit for royalty, in part because her father wanted to provide a ceremony more elaborate than the life he was able to give his daughter, who became an analyst at Morgan Stanley immediately after graduating New York University's Stern School of Business in 2001.”Although we were never wealthy, our lives are filled with rich memories – picnics in the park, long walks on the beach,” said Rong Shi, Hannah's father, during his eulogy. “You always wanted to make sure your family was happy.”Hannah Shi was a provider, one who gave back to her sister, parents and grandmother in myriad ways after she completed her degree and began working at Morgan Stanley's New York City office. She relocated to the Hong Kong office recently and was promoted to the coveted position of associate – a major step in the 25-year-old's career.”Trust is something we hand out last,” Morgan Stanley Managing Director Michael Caulfield said. “Trust is what we handed Hannah first.”He said she was one of a few college graduates offered a job as an analyst at Morgan Stanley right out of school.”It was in that environment that Hannah truly prevailed at Morgan Stanley,” Caulfield said. “What distinguished Hannah apart from her beautiful mind was her spirit.”She worked under Caulfield and traveled with him to make presentations at offices around the world. He said in reviewing her personnel file, he could not find a single constructive criticism – something the company prides itself on giving its employees.Her best friend Nancy Kim said Hannah Shi loved learning about new cultures. Born in China, where her parents lived at the time, Hannah moved to New York and grew up in Rego Park before attending NYU and studying in Singapore her junior year.”She was curious about the world,” Kim said. “She enjoyed the challenge of familiarizing herself with new and different cities.”While working in Hong Kong, she planned a trip with friends to the Phi Phi islands over Christmas, where the tsunami hit while she was sleeping on the morning of Dec. 26.”She taught me to acknowledge what brave sacrifices our parents made in coming here from China,” Annie Shi said. “I will take care of (the family) for both of us,” she added, looking over at the coffin as her voice cracked. “I have always been the baby of the family -I have been careless and foolish and so young -but I will grow up and be responsible and take care of them because I know they were the most important to you.”Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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