Cultivation and Contribution

Appreciating Carmel Resident Kwan Hui’s Local Legacy

Writer & Photographer / Jeff Worrell

You may never have met him, but his fingerprints are all over our community. He is a Harvard-trained scientist now retired from Eli Lilly who was born in the southern province of China. His parents immigrated to the United States when he was very young and he came to Carmel with his wife to start a family in 1989. He is the devoted caretaker and creator of one of the largest collections of species of Oriental tree peonies, started the popular Chinese Lion Dance Team, is a tireless volunteer for Carmel nonprofits and is a big supporter and promoter of all art forms both in Carmel and across central Indiana. Kwan Hui

I have bumped into Kwan Hui on multiple occasions as he sits on the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Human Relations, is active with the Chinese Mooncake Festival and advocates for our Sister City, Xiangyang. He is a member of Rotary Club of Carmel, King of Glory Lutheran Church, Chinese Community Church, Chinese Orchestra and the Indiana Museum of Art Asian Art Society board, to name just a few.

During an interaction last summer, I had the opportunity to appreciate Hui’s love for all things Carmel and enjoy one of his passions – master gardening.

“Kwan donated his time and his garden to support us with our Garden Tour annual fundraiser,” says Debbie Gangstad, executive director of the Carmel Clay Historical Society. “He was absolutely wonderful, phenomenal, exuberant and generous with his time and resources. Our patrons really appreciated his hard work and the grounds on his property.”

And they should.  In addition to beautiful plantings and landscaping throughout Hui’s flowering slice of heaven, nestled along the shoreline of Lake Woodland, he nurtures over 70 Oriental tree peonies, displaying 40 different species. Sometimes he must use Kwan Huifloodlights in order to get the necessary pruning done before calling it a day.

“I love everything that pleases my eye and pleases my ear; I originally thought I would be an artist and go to art school, but my parents thought I should become a scientist,” he says with an understanding look of being a parent himself.

Last month I watched Hui turn the gavel over to his successor when he completed his term as president of the Indiana Association of Chinese Americans, as they celebrated their 50th anniversary. It is obvious that Hui loves sharing his Chinese culture with others and believes strongly in contributing to the American way of life.

The next time you see the lion dancing in Carmel’s midtown or the dragon twirling along Main Street, I hope you will think fondly of Carmel’s longtime resident, Kwan Hui. He has dedicated a significant portion of his life to sharing his culture, all done in the spirit of better understanding and love for all mankind. I hope you enjoy his work.Kwan Hui

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