In his 77 years, Liu Rusheng claims to have cheated death six times.
First, as a baby, he was abandoned by his parents as they fled Japanese soldiers during an invasion of China.
In the ensuing years he was subsequently hit by a truck while learning to ride a bike, and nearly drowned while swimming with friends.
Then there were the three heart attacks, including one during which he was forced to ride his bike to a nearby hospital for help.
Perhaps it was because of all these apparent duels with death that Mr Liu, from Nanjing in eastern China, valued his life so much.
The distinguished Chinese artist and calligrapher even wrote an essay on the topic, which he published on his website.
“After having escaped death several times, I enjoy and treasure life even more,’’ he wrote.
In the early hours of March 8, Mr Liu and his 73-year-old wife, Bao Yuanhua, boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing.
Mr Liu was the oldest of the 239 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777, which simply vanished into radar darkness.
More than two weeks on, and mystery still surrounds the fate of the jet and all of those on board.
But, as an Australian-led search continues to scour the southern Indian Ocean for any sign of plane wreckage, it seems incredibly unlikely that Mr Liu’s death-defying run could have stretched to a seventh case.
Mr Liu was part of a delegation of 34 Chinese artists, relatives and organisers who had travelled to Kuala Lumpur for a three-day painting and calligraphy exhibition, at which the artists’ work was displayed.
The exhibition was organised by a Chinese online commerce group called IBICN.
The calligraphers, painters and poets had staggered their return home, and 18 of the group were on board MH370.
Mr Liu was known for his mastery of portraiture, birds and flowers, according to the Wall Street Journal. He headed at least three traditional Chinese art groups and was a member of the state-backed China Calligraphy Association.
"He was exemplary among artists because he had great technique, and he had a lot of friends," Ma Yongan, chairman of the China Calligraphy and Art Association, told the Wall Street Journal.
Mr Ma said Mr Liu’s work was of such high quality that it attracted the attention of Chinese officials, who presented it as an official gift to Taiwan’s former premier, Lien Chan.
Friends of Mr Liu told the Wall Street Journal that he was an exuberant and energetic man given to speaking in a somewhat formal manner.
In his 2006 essay about the six times he cheated death, Mr Liu described how his parents had no choice but to abandon him and his four siblings in their house when Japanese soldiers invaded.
“Actually, my parents did not expect me to survive. But whenever they came back, they were shocked to see me still alive,” he said in the article, translated by the Malaysian newspaper The Star.
“In the second incident, I just learned how to ride a bicycle and collided with a truck. I was trapped underneath the truck and was dragged.”
He suffered one heart attack when training at an army camp in 1971, and again on a train to Dunhuang in western China in 1982.
He suffered another heart attack at home in 1993 but managed to cycle to a nearby hospital for help.
But the experiences had not left him jaded.
To the contrary, he wrote in his essay that "fate has been good to me’’.
"The creative road ahead is long, and I’m willing to make greater efforts to progress," he wrote.