Vivian Cheng-Khanna, age 62, spouse of loving husband Rajiv Khanna and daughter of Helen M.M. and Lu-I Cheng, passed away November 24, 2017. Born in New York City and residing in Upper Saddle River and Seaside Park, New Jersey and Goa, India, she spent her lifetime enriching the life of everyone who crossed her path, helping them achieve their dreams and potential, encouraging them with her overwhelming optimism and helping them with her brilliant intellect.
She engaged in her professional career as a mergers and acquisitions attorney, a municipal bond attorney at leading New York-based law firms, a real estate attorney and immigration attorney in her own firm and in social justice as a board member of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Vivian spent her early years in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduating valedictorian of her Clayton Valley High School class before heading off to attend college at Harvard on a scholarship (for which privilege Harvard competed with every other Ivy League school in wooing her on a scholarship) and eventually to New York City to attend Columbia University Law School.
Vivian’s varied interests carried a rich multi-cultural tone and optimism for the future, providing a staunch sense of purpose to help others in multi-faceted ways. Her higher purpose to life was motivated by her ancestry and teachings carried from her mother, Helen Yu and from her grandfather, Yu Youren, a leader in the founding of the Republic of China, and also a prominent Chinese calligrapher, educator, founder of a university and journalist, whose legacy is claimed by both China and Taiwan and is highly respected by both. Like her grandfather, Vivian was determined to leave this world a much better place than when she entered it, a goal which achieved in a multi-dimensional way with the countless people she helped achieve their potential and the social justice that she bought to our society.
During her early years as an attorney, she met her future husband, Rajiv Khanna, a partner in a major law firm. They were married in a month after their first date, which was the beginning of 28 years of a blissful fairy tale marriage.
Vivian’s strong sense of family, her Chinese-American heritage and constant desire to immerse herself and learn about Indian culture and family traditions, was apparent from the many cherished family dinners, reunions, and events she participated in, organized and hosted with her husband.
With her friends, associates, husband and extended family, life was always enriched with Vivian’s wide interests as she beautifully and brilliantly played the classical piano and concert clarinet, served as a student General Secretary of the Harvard Model United Nations, reported for the Harvard Crimson, interned at the U.S. State Department, practiced law and visited her relatives across the globe in Washington DC, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Beijing, and New Delhi and Mumbai, India. In reflective moments, she walked the trails of Yosemite National Park with her aged father, strolled hand in hand by the seashore near her homes in Seaside Park and Goa, India with her loving husband, and planted seeds of life and hope in her garden and in the minds of those who knew her and loved her in a life well-lived.
She is survived by her husband Rajiv and her siblings Noland, Lana and Julia.
A funeral will be held from 10:30AM-12:30PM, Thursday, November 30, 2017 at Vander Plaat Funeral Home, 257 Godwin Avenue, Wyckoff, NJ. A special memorial ‘Celebration of Life’ service is also planned for early 2018 (mid-late January) in New York City at the Harvard Club of New York (midtown Manhattan, time and date to be announced).