Liet Tat Nguyen obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Liet Tat Nguyen

July 13, 1954 - November 23, 2016

Obituary


A TRIBUTE TO LEE

Lee was a man of many facets: dreamer, creator, destructor, painter, builder, poet, hopeless artist, psycho therapist, counselor, businessman. He dreamed big and pushed others to do the same. He also was a talker and loved to debate. He could spend hours debating about something with someone (for which I had always felt a very useless thing to do!).

He struggled all his life, as if that was what he was born to do. Two months after he was born in Ha Noi, he fled south to Saigon with...

A TRIBUTE TO LEE

Lee was a man of many facets: dreamer, creator, destructor, painter, builder, poet, hopeless artist, psycho therapist, counselor, businessman. He dreamed big and pushed others to do the same. He also was a talker and loved to debate. He could spend hours debating about something with someone (for which I had always felt a very useless thing to do!).

He struggled all his life, as if that was what he was born to do. Two months after he was born in Ha Noi, he fled south to Saigon with our mother and sisters Lan and Mai on a military plane. Over the next twenty years of his life, our family moved around a lot, from Saigon to the highland, Dakto, Kontum, Pleiku and back to Saigon. Then, in 1975, he fled Saigon with me on the ship named Truong Xuan which was destined to be rescued by one of the Danish Maersk container ships. The ship took us to New Territory of Hong Kong where we spent months in a refugee camp there before getting resettled in the US. Since then, we had been through so many ups and downs together.

Lee took so many different professions, from a janitor at K-Mart during his first year in the US to a Virginia Magistrate in his last job. How did he manage to become a Magistrate without a Law degree or study? I think it stemmed from all the life experience that he had gone through.
So many people claimed that he had helped them so much, whether business or personal. Nevertheless, I held my breath every time he attempted to establish a new business himself. For I had seen his construction business fell apart so many times because of one reason or another. Yet, somehow, he would pick himself up and started all over again.

He was a Medal of Honor recipient in 2007. These medals are presented annually by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) to American citizens who have distinguished themselves within their own ethnic groups while exemplifying the values of the American way of life. Lee was very proud but also modest. So, he asked me, Jesper and kids to represent him at the ceremony on Ellis Island. Given the pompous ceremony, and the diverse background and achievements of the recipients, we knew it wasn't just any medal. To this day, we don't know who nominated him. A little-known fact from Google: Muhammed Ali, Frank Sinatra and Rosa Parks received the same medal in the past!

He was especially psychic. I'd never forget one gathering where friends (new and old) lined up waiting for their turn to get their palm read. I could only attest based on the fact that our friend Foon's father, a very proud and respectable 80-year-old Chinese man, was astounded by Lee's reading accuracy.
He also was a lady's man. He claimed that the ladies attracted to him and not the other way around. At one point in his early twenties, he managed to befriend five young ladies with the same first name, Nga. I was asked to be a go-between all of them. But then, love was more of a yearning and heartache than comfort and lasting bliss in Lee's life. He often said that he's a loner and cannot be a married type. Yet, people from all walks of life adored and respected him! His charisma was complimented by his stubbornness and high temper. Perhaps the reason that family and friends still love him so much is because deep down he was a good and generous man.

So, for the first time in his life, Lee will no longer struggle. I will no longer be frustrated at him. Anna and Eric will no longer have to remind him not to smoke. Ma will no longer have to worry if he's in pain. Chi Mai will no longer worry about what food to make for him and what alternative medicine would improve his health.

I will miss him but Lee is at peace now!

Khanh