Born in Trenton, N.J., he came to us from the Hun School. At Princeton he majored in Oriental Studies, was president of the Princeton Russian Club, and was a member of the Chinese Calligraphy Club, the Outing Club, and the Savoyards. He took his meals at Court.
After completing his undergraduate degree (he was one of the first Chinese studies majors), Jay received a Fulbright fellowship to Taiwan before completing his Ph.D. in Chinese intellectual history at Stanford. He also received National Defense Foreign Language, Carnegie, and Republic of China fellowships, as well as the Chiang Ching-kuo fellowship and a Pacific Cultural Foundation research grant. He went on to teach as professor of Chinese Studies at the California Colleges Program in Taipei and associate professor of Chinese at National Taiwan University, where he taught research methods in Chinese studies at the graduate level. He also taught at World Campus Afloat and served as director of the Chinese language program at the University of Denver, where he was one of the founders of the China humanities program. Jay also worked for the State Department for several years as a consultant and escort interpreter.
Jay is survived by his wife, Lina; daughter Felicia Yao; and sons Colin and Mark.