Ms. Solange E. Nguyen took her last breath at Rex Hospital the morning of October 9th after a long battle with several strokes and breast cancer. She spent her last two years living in her daughter and son in law’s home in Raleigh, NC. She is survived by her daughter and son in law, Hoang and Jeff Robinson, her son and daughter in law, Hung Ho and Ly Nguyen and her grandchildren Quy and Kayla Ho of Knightdale, NC; along with her mother Ms. Luu Thi Toi, and brothers and sisters Georges, Yvonne, Nicolas, Alexandre, and Dominique Demianoff, of Paris, France.
Ms. Nguyen was born in Vietnam on August 10, 1939. She grew up learning French in Vietnam and then English as an adult and took pride in being tri-lingual. She took work as a medical rep, traveling around on her motor scooter, selling products to doctors in Saigon, some of whom she formed life-long friendships with. Her best memories were going to the vast open air markets in Saigon with her children, and socializing with her family and friends at her favorite restaurants.
In the Spring of 1975, when the U.S. military suddenly announced their retreat from South Vietnam, Ms. Nguyen was given just two hours notice to pack one suitcase and leave the city, with her husband at the time, Mr. Be Xuan Ho and her two small children. Leaving behind a happy middle class life, a home, her job and other dear family members, including her mother and youngest sister; Ms. Nguyen was forced to say goodbye to her beloved country, barely escaping the fast approaching North Vietnamese army. Despite the looming danger, Ms. Nguyen would first rush around the city to pick up her brother-in law and nephew on her motor scooter. Becoming part of the now infamous history of Vietnamese struggling to get through the gates at the U.S Embassy in Saigon, Ms. Nguyen with her two children and other family members, with the help of her brother-in-law Mr. Ky Ho, fled in the middle of the night, on the second to last helicopter departing off the roof top of the U.S. Embassy to a U.S aircraft carrier awaiting them in Saigon Bay. Bound the next morning for Guam and the Hawaiian Islands, she would never have the opportunity to return home.
As an immigrant and political refugee to the United States, Ms. Nguyen taught herself to speak English and took many odd jobs to support herself and her young children, who would eventually both go on to college. The family was forced to begin their life in America living 6 months in military barracks at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas; then in Greensboro and at public housing in Raleigh, NC. Later they became proud home owners in Raleigh and Knightdale, NC. Ms. Nguyen studied to become a cosmetologist. She was talented at her job and enjoyed its creative aspects, as she did her hobbies in sewing and cooking. Her true passion though would eventually become fishing, for she loved the independence of catching, cleaning and eating her own fish.
Ms. Nguyen was a loving and protective mother and grandmother who took great care of her children in the most difficult of life situations, and by example, taught them to be modest and good, responsible human beings.
Although she never had the opportunity to return to her home country, as she would say many times, “home is where your children and grandchildren live.” Although she is no longer with them on this Earth, she will be forever in their hearts.