Floral 24

Bun Chea

September 23, 1933 ~ June 14, 2021 (age 87)

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Bunthoeun Chea of Norfolk, Massachusetts , originally of Siem Reap- Cambodia has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 87 on June 14th, 2021 at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

She is survived by her two daughters Sontheary Sou ,husband  Joe Ng of Needham, Sampheasiny Sou Fitzgerald,husband Brendan Fitzgerald of Norfolk , granddaughter Saraneh Fitzgerald of Boston, her grandsons: Paddy San of Abington, Matthew Ng of Needham, Sean Paul Fitzgerald ,wife Sokheang Heng of Arizona and former US Air Force Technical Sergeant Thomas Fitzgerald of Florida.
Bunthoeun was born and raised in a middle class family of rice merchants in Srok Chi Kreng, Siem Reap province of Cambodia ,she is the youngest of three daughters.  As a young girl when not in school, she enjoyed traveling with her parents  caravans all over  the  country when they went  trading for  other commodities such as cloth, silk , sugar, medecine etc.. Hence she had learned to cook different dishes and became quite a good cook. A good swimmer as she recounted her athleticism to me :during wet monsoon season the whole country was  engulfed  with water and  only way to go to school is to swim across the big  river with one arm raised up in the air holding her school uniform a book and 1 pencil so they woud not get wet...and she did that everyday until monsoon season is over... What a good sport and dedication to educate herself!   She was literate in her native Khmer language  , and French as it was  the "official language of the country"..  Bunthoeun later joined the Khmer Military as a Morse Code Operator after WWII and the Japanese occupation in Southeast Asia. There she met and married our father Sao Hoeun Sou, a young lieutenant officer  in the Royal Khmer Army, Signal Corps Division..  As young wife  she followed her husband  and  relocated to Phnom Penh where he worked  at the command center and to start a family . She has five children. Bunthoeun is the best mother but strict , she believed in best education , and made sure that her 5 children received the best  that  she and her husband could afford .Life was peaceful and prosperous as Cambodia gained its independence from France . Sadly,  this peaceful life did not last long.. Cambodia fell into another horrifyingly wicked brutal, barbaric war with the the Khmer Rouge ,  known to the Western World as the" Killing Fields".  The Khmer Rouge had executed her husband, and three of her five children died of starvation in the concentration camps. . Only she and 2 daughters Sontheary and Sampheasiny  survived the killings and starvation, they risked their lives and  escaped the concentration labor  camp and sought refuge at Khmer Thai border under the care of  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.. Bunthoeun, her 2 daughters  and her 2 grand children  became refugees and were accepted and emigrated to the U.S. in 1981   , where the next chapter in their lives began.
In the U.S. life was hard  to start out for  Bunthoeun, she  needed to learn a new language, assimilate and acculturate as much as she could.  As  daughters worked hard to create a life and career in the United States, Buntheoun selflessly helped  care of her five grandchildren and created a stable life at home.  For many years to come, she  continued to care for everyone, never missing a meal, birthdays or Christmas cards.  Each Khmer New Year, Bunthoeun prepared her special dishes and shared her  never ending love with her children and grand children .   She had the strongest spirit and the purest soul and taught our family the true meaning of love.  Even to her last breath she continued to tell us that she loved us.  This feeling will live on for the rest of us and give us strength when we need it.
From Sontheary: "Mom, when i look at you , i see the purest Loves in your eyes that i can find on earth, Your precious loving words resonate in every fiber and veins of my body. Your memory and never ending love will be  mine to keep,  God has you in his arms but I carry your memory in my heart.  Please be my mother and travel companion again in our next life. Until then, may  your soul rise to Nirvana and   I will look up at you in the next full  moon while you shine over my garden.
Forever love,

From Sampheasiny: " No amount of words I say or tears I shed can describe my gratitude for your love, support and guidance throughout the years.  From going to hell and back during the Khmer Rouge and struggling to stay alive.  We have made a decent, happy and successful life here.  None of this would be possible without your dedication and love for me and our family.  I'll be forever in debt and grateful for letting me be with you.  I'll do my best to care for our family well and be worthy of your love.  You'll be forever in my heart.
Until we meet again,"

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Memorial Service
July 17, 2021

2:00 PM
Quealy Funeral Home
116 Adams Street
Abington, MA 02351

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