Eugenie Chen was born in Hangzhou, China, in 1937. Although she lived in several different parts of China as a child because of her father's job in the Chinese air force, her family eventually settled in Taiwan following the Communist Party takeover of Mainland China. It was there that she would earn her undergraduate degree at National Taiwan University. She then came to Houston, Texas in 1958 to attend the University of Houston and earn a Master's degree in accounting. She has worked as a bookkeeper and a homebuilder, designing homes for properties she owned in West University.