On the evening of May 5, 2023, Meng Chou (our beloved wife, mother, and A-ma) passed away. Her loving husband and son were by her side. Meng Chou was 80 years old.
Meng Chou was born in Pailin, Cambodia on September 8, 1942. She was the third child of Kim Thong Tan.
Meng Chou married Kim Khap Leang in 1971. They both grew up in Pailin, Cambodia, a prosperous town and an area famous for its sapphires. She and Kim owned and operated a sapphire mining company in the early 1970s until the city of Pailin was invaded by the Khmer Rouge when they began their major offensive to control the Khmer Republic government in 1975. Not long after that, most residents and Meng Chou’s family were rounded up and forced into the countryside and jungle. Pregnant with her third child, Meng Chou faced much hardship while living in the countryside without much food and medicine. Thus began her family’s nightmare journey under the ruthless Pol Pot regime. Under the regime, Meng Chou was forced to work in rice paddies for long hours in harsh conditions. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge committed mass genocide killing 2.5 million of its own people in four years.
By 1979 the Vietnamese invaded and liberated the Khmer people from the Khmer Rouge. Fearing the bombings, Meng Chou and her family were forced to escape to a refugee camp in Thailand. However, the Thai Government bussed and dumped her family back to an unfamiliar region in Northern Cambodian where she and her family faced starvation and land mines. Malnourished and homeless, they walked across Cambodia and found temporary refuge in Vietnam then journey back across Cambodia again until they reached another refugee camp in Thailand. Meng Chou and her family relocated to several refugee camps: Nong Jian, Khau-I-Dang, Mairut, Chonburi, and Bataan Philippine before they came to America.
Meng Chou and her family were sponsored to Ellensburg, WA by the Grace Episcopal Church in 1981 and were reunited with Meng Chou’s older brother (Tan Kim Heng) and her older sister (Neang Nou Leang).
Meng Chou learned English at Central Washington University through the people for people program where she earned an achievement certificate for Child Monitor Training Project. She worked the night shift at Twin City Foods from 1982 – 1999. During the daytime after only a few hours of sleep, Meng Chou would clean people’s homes while also caring and cooking meals for her family.
In 1999, Meng Chou was diagnosed with a benign lump in her right breast and was treated with radiation and cancer medication. In 2017, another benign lump was found, and she went through a mastectomy. Meng Chou is a breast cancer survivor and completed all her treatments in 2021. She survived Covid 19. She survived the brutal Khmer Rouge and many other obstacles thrown in her way. She was a tough and very hard worker. Most of all, Meng Chou was a very dedicated mother to her children, a fantastic A-ma to her 5 grandkids, and a loyal and loving wife to husband, Kim. Meng Chou and Kim celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2021 with close family and friends.
Meng Chou and Kim enjoyed travelling to many countries together including many trips back to their old country. She enjoyed spending time with her grandkids. She was always up for anything. She enjoyed long drives or just short drives around town. She was the best cook. She enjoyed gardening, she had the greenest thumb.
Meng Chou was the most selfless person who never spoiled herself. She was so caring and had an infectious laughter. She was very proud of her children. They will miss her very much.
Meng Chou is survived by her husband Kim Khap Leang, her son Feng Tan Leang, her daughters, Peng Hilton and Cheng Ng, her sons-in-law, John Hilton, and Paul Ng, and her 5 grandkids, Jack Hilton, Brooke Hilton, Sydney Hilton, Nathan Ng, and Kaya Ng.
The family will greet friends at a visitation from 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 19, 2023 at Johnston & Williams Funeral Home in Ellensburg. Funeral services will be conducted privately and she will be laid to rest at the IOOF Cemetery in Ellensburg.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory of Ellensburg.