Ro Van Ngo

Ro Van Ngo

Ro Van Ngo

Cedar Rapids

Ro Van Ngo (81), of Cedar Rapids passed away peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by family at St. Luke’s Ed & Joan Hemphill Hospice Unit on Nov. 7, 2023. He died due to complications from advanced dementia and pneumonia.

A formal visitation will be held on Friday, Nov. 17 from 4pm-8pm at the Cedar Memorial Chapel Stateroom, where his family welcomes anyone who would like to come join them in paying their final respects. A private ceremony will be held the following day for family members only and will be closed to the public.

Ro was born on July 7, 1939, in Tra Vinh Province, Vietnam, where he lived with his parents and two older brothers. He attended a French colonial school in Vietnam, graduating with a bachelor’s in English and French. After immigrating to the U.S. at the end of the Vietnam War, he continued his education at the University of Iowa and received an M.A. in Education and Mathematics in 1982.

Ro is survived by his caring and dedicated wife of 48 years, Tu Anh Ngo; his daughters Helene Ngo of Los Angeles, CA, and Josephine Ngo of Sacramento, CA; his sons Christopher Huynh (wife Tam) of Richardson, TX, and Alex Vu Huynh of Garland Tx; and his grandchildren Alicia, Alexander, and Angelina Huynh, as well as several extended family members. Ro was preceded in death by his parents, three older brothers, and two uncles.

Ro served as a lieutenant in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, which fought alongside the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. He also acted as a liaison between the American embassy and the American and Vietnamese militaries.

His passion for knowledge led to him becoming a high school principal in Vietnam, before leaving with the American military at the end of the war. He first stayed at the refugee camp at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. From there, he was sponsored by First Lutheran Church and relocated to Cedar Rapids. He would later become a math and ESL teacher in the Cedar Rapids School District, as well as a landlord, at one point owning several houses/apartment buildings.

Ro was very active in the Vietnamese community, as he was one of the first Vietnamese refugees to come to Cedar Rapids and helped build the community as it stands now. He helped many of those who could not speak English by advocating and translating on their behalf. He was recognized by Governor Terry Branstad with a Governor’s Volunteer Award in 1986, for all the hard work he did in helping Vietnamese refugees acclimate to life in Cedar Rapids.

He was also the co-founder and president of the Vietnamese Friendship Association, which participated in the Ethnic Festival every year, as well as coordinated Vietnamese New Year at Washington High School, where he taught for 17 years and where he retired from in 2000. After retiring, his free time was spent drinking coffee with friends, reading history, learning Chinese, and writing poetry; he even turned one of his poems into a recorded song.

He was a caring father, husband and friend to many; nothing pleased him more than sharing a laugh, or a funny story or two. He was a beloved mentor to his many students, and to anyone else who needed his help. His absence will be felt deeply in the hearts of all those who were able to meet him, know him and love him. He had a personality that was larger than life, a keen understanding of the human condition, and lived a life of great service to the community that he loved. He meant so much to so many, and he will be deeply missed.

To the dedicated staff at St. Luke’s Hospital, the family offers their utmost appreciation for the lengths they went to, to keep him comfortable. For those who wish to donate in his honor, please direct any donations to the St. Luke’s Foundation, in honor of Ro’s caregivers in both the ER and the Hospice Unit. The family is indebted to these outstanding departments for providing him with the loving, quality care he deserved in his final days. Please contact the St. Luke’s Foundation at (319) 369-7716 for further information.

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