OBITUARY

Tuyet Le

August 20, 1938January 1, 2021
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Our family sadly lost a pillar when our beloved mother, Le Thi Tuyet Minh, went home to Jesus on January 1, 2021 at the age of 83. Mom is survived by her five children, Tuyen and wife, Kieu Thanh, Thuy and husband, Trong Dung, Truc, Thuc and wife, Yen, Thuan, her eighteen grandchildren, and her six great grandchildren.

Mom was born to Le Van Thu and Tran Thi Thai on August 20, 1938 in Ha Nam, Vietnam. She was the eldest of four girls with two older and one younger brother. She had the equivalent of the 6th grade education which was normal for young girls at the time. In 1952, she met her would-be husband, Nguyen Gia Binh, in Ninh Giang, while he was serving with the French Infantry. In 1954, after the signing of the Geneva Agreements, Mom and Dad were separated when the French withdrew from Northern Vietnam to below the 17th parallel. This separated Vietnam into two zones - a northern zone to be governed by the Viet Minh and the southern zone to be governed by the State of Vietnam. Mom left her family in the North to join Dad in Da Nang Military Base in South Vietnam at the age of 16. In 1955 they welcomed their first-born son, Tuyen and soon were blessed with another son, Thong (passed at the age of 3 months old), and two more girls, Thao and Thuy, during which time they moved and lived in three different military bases.

Mom and Dad built their first house in Saigon and moved from the base in 1961. This was the year Mom, an officer’s housewife with a limited level of education, became a fierce businesswoman. As a result of the 1960 South Vietnamese Coup Attempt, US presence of Special Forces Troops and military advisors grew and the need for housing increased dramatically. This led Mom to start a construction company in which she built and rented housing to foreign allies. During this period, she was blessed with three more children, one girl, Truc, and 2 boys, Thuc and Thuan. In 1969, there were more than half a million American troops in VN, new opportunity knocked, and Mom answered. In 1970, she became the very first Free Lance Contractor for the American 1st Cavalry and supported all needs of the soldiers and their families. When the market saturated with new contractors, Mom sought a new business venture and started an import business between Hong Kong, Singapore, and Vietnam in 1972. There were many ups and downs along the way, but she never gave up and continued to push forward seeking new business opportunities until the day Vietnam fell. In this short period, Mom touched many lives and earned her status name as CHI HAI (Big Sis). She helped many friends and families start their own business by sharing her wealth and knowledge. She was known for her sturdiness and generosity among her peers and followers.

On April 26th, 1975, as the war came to an end, Mom experienced the biggest loss of her life, the death of her 16 year old daughter, Thao. On that same day, her four youngest children were heading to Singapore with Dad. With all the uncertainty and chaos, Mom took control of the situation and in 1 ½ days arranged a proper burial for her daughter, highlighting her strength and independence. On April 30th, Mom and her oldest son left Vietnam in an HQ3 Vietnam Navy Ship to Guam, 12 hours before the fall of Saigon. Shortly after they found their way to Fort Chaffee Camp Military Base in Arkansas, USA. Once in the U.S., she learned that Dad did not leave with the younger children to Singapore, instead went back to Saigon for her and was captured and trapped inside the Department of General Staff Camp by the Viet Cong. The news of Dad’s situation and not knowing where her children were, did not break her. She searched tirelessly for six months and located her four missing children at Subic Bay Military Base in the Philippines. She went through many obstacles to have her children flown to Fort Chaffee to be reunited with the family.

Six months after reuniting with her children, Mom obtained sponsorship from the First Methodist Church of Fayette, Alabama. Upon arrival the family was sent to a trailer park to live, not what she pictured what her new home in America would be. Still in shock with the idea of living in a CAR, she was presented with food stamps as currency. Mom, as a proud and independent woman, refused to accept the handout, exclaiming she was capable of working and supporting her own family. To add salt to the wound, it was suggested for her oldest son to take a job instead of seeking higher education, the family was given a bicycle as a means of transportation to and from work. Mom had to balance three jobs, five children and their education, all in a “foreign” country with little to no resources. Despite all this, she sent her son out of state to attend college and, after 18 months of hard work along with a $500 loan from Western Auto and her savings, she moved the family to Houston seeking more fruitful opportunities.

Mom, a single woman with five children and a 6th grade equivalent education, who could not read or write in English, landed a management position with the Utotem Convenience store chain. It was in this job, working daily from open to close, where she learned the ins and outs of operating a retail store. In less than two years she bought her first grocery store with her savings and money borrowed from Family and Friends. Within six months of that, she bought her second grocery store which was twice the size of the first and seamlessly paid off all her debt. Within five years, she bought and sold seven convenience stores and supermarkets. During her success, she helped her countrymen and woman learn the trade to eventually own their own businesses. In late 1984, Mom moved the family to Dallas – Fort Worth in pursuit of more opportunities. She touched and affected many lives and to this day is well known in the Vietnamese Community.

In 1990, as the retail business landscape changed and the ma and pa businesses were being taken over by larger chains, Mom took a break to visit Hong Kong and Mainland China where she saw that people were flocking to the KFC in Beijing. The light bulb went on! With little to no fast-food chains accessible in the smaller cities, Mom navigated unchartered territory and obtained needed permits to open American Fried Chicken restaurant in Nanning, Quang xi, China. In her 10 years of doing business in China, she opened multiple sites in adjacent cities and brought catering trucks from the US to cater large events and on site at popular parks.

Her success spanned across all aspects of her life from business to her family. Today her children are well educated, successful, and happily partnered. Her gardening skills were second to none and her Grandchildren would testify to the Heavenly food she cooked time and time again.

To her children, she was a loving, stern mother and disciplinarian. To her Grandchildren she was a loving, honest, and gentle Queen who always expected the very best from both. She personified what it meant to have integrity, to be honest and to work hard. She was a determined, no nonsense, and independent woman who was always generous and kind to others. Most of all – She is a perfect role model. She loved her children and made many sacrifices to earn and afford the empire she built for us, despite her immigrant status.

Mom, though you were surrounded by family and others, the road was lonely. Thank you for all the sacrifices you made and the hardships you have endured. We are where we are today because of you. It is time to reunite with Dad, Thong and Thao and to be happy and free in your new journey. The Kingdom of Heaven is waiting. Rest in peace. “There are no goodbyes, only see you later, wherever you are, you will always be in our heart.”

A visitation for Tuyet will be held Monday, January 18, 2021 from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM at Moore Funeral Home, 1219 North Davis Drive, Arlington, TX 76012. A visitation will occur Tuesday, January 19, 2021 from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, 1219 North Davis Drive, Arlington, TX 76012. A mass of christian burial will occur Wednesday, January 20, 2021 from 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM at Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church, 801 E. Mayfield Road, Arlington, TX 76011.

Services

19 January

Visitation

9:00 am - 9:00 pm

Moore Funeral Home

1219 North Davis Drive
Arlington, TX 76012

20 January

Mass of Christian Burial

8:30 am - 9:30 am

Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church

801 E. Mayfield Road
Arlington, TX 76011

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Visitation

    Monday, January 18, 2021

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Tuyet Le

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Four generations of fearless woman

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