Betsy Sisouk Somchanhmavong, 79, of Ithaca, NY, passed away of liver cancer on June 5, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY.
She was born in Champassak, Laos, on May 8, 1942. Coming to the U.S as a refugee from war-torn Laos in 1980 was an act of love, love for her six children, and love for her lifelong partner and companion - Khampho Somchanhmavong who left Laos a year earlier and reunited in Ithaca, N.Y. As a former nurse and midwife with no command of the English language, her education, and training credentials were not transferrable. Still, she was tenacious in wanting to learn the language so that she may return to her profession of choice. In Ithaca, she worked as a nurse’s aide at the Reconstruction Home for five years. She then switched to food services at Cornell University, where she prepared meals for thousands of students for nearly two decades until her retirement in 2007.
Her legacy is survived by her older brother, Ky Senesouvarn, in Dusseldorf, Germany, and her husband, Khampho Somchanhmavong, in Ithaca, New York, and their six children—Siphoxay, Sivilay, Sinta, Khamphay, Savanvilay, and Xayasana Somchanhmavong. Additionally, she’s survived by nine grandchildren—Austin, Ashley, Philip, Morgan, Ryan, Carter, Kaden, Remy, and Mia. Having families and friends throughout the U.S and the world made her an avid traveler. She had a chance to visit her brother in Germany and her sister in Laos in an epic trip that she thoroughly enjoyed and would have loved for a returned trip for more Durian and mango fruit roll-ups from her hometown of Champassak.
We will miss her gracious smiles and gregarious personality. She touched us in so many ways. We invite you to join us for a celebration of life for “Mae - mom/big mama” on Saturday, June 12, 2021, from 2:00 – 5:00 pm at Perkins Funeral Home, 55 West Main Street, Dryden, NY 13053. The reception will be held at 507 Willow Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14850. On Sunday at 10:00 am, the traditional Buddhist Ceremony, Thak Bhat, will be held at the house.
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