Phokham Khonesavanh



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Phokham Khonesavanh was born in Savannakhet, Laos in 1939. He was the oldest of eight siblings. After completing his secondary education at the age of 18, he enrolled in Military Officer School. He then joined the Royal Lao Army in 1962 and fought heroically against the Communist take-over of Laos during the Vietnam War and Indochinese Conflict. Due to his strength, dedication and courage, he was eventually promoted to the rank of Captain. He married his beloved wife of 57 years, Manychanh, in June of 1966 and together, they had four daughters: Lae (born and died in 1967), Khamphouvanh (“Kham”, born in 1969), Chanthavy (“Neuy”, born in 1972) and Latsamy (born in 1975, died in 1978).  Mr. Khonesavanh’s military career was unfortunately cut short by the fall of the Lao Nationalist Government in 1975. Given his previous military career with the Royal Lao Army, he was relegated to a “re-education camp” where he survived inhumane conditions, unable to communicate with his family for five years. In 1980, he was able to escape from the prisoner camp and fled to a refugee camp in Ubon, Thailand. There, he worked as a vocational teacher in auto repairs for 17 months until he was transferred to Napho Refugee Camp in Thailand in 1982. He was reunited with his wife and their two surviving daughters in 1983 at this refugee camp.  In November of 1985, his family was granted the opportunity to create a new life for themselves far away from the horrors of war by immigrating to Rochester, NY. Mr. and Mrs. Khonesavanh and their daughters moved to Rochester and began to rebuild their lives. Mr. Khonesavanh worked as a janitor at the Maplewood YMCA for many years and then worked at the Monroe County Recycling Center until his retirement in 2014.  During his later years in Rochester, Mr. Khonesavanh’s life revolved around his children and grandchildren. He loved to share stories of his life and aspects of Lao culture with them and he loved sharing pictures of them with everyone he met. They were his world.  On March 25th, 2023, he peacefully took his last breaths while surrounded by his beloved family. He is survived by his wife Manychanh and his younger siblings Bounthanom (Saleumphonh), Phoukoung, Bounthavy, Sibounthat, Sisavanh, and Phandola. He is also survived by his daughters Kham (Richard) and Chanthavy (Keo) as well as his grandchildren: Isabella, Sarena, Samantha, Elizabeth, Savanna, and Sara; his nephews and nieces: Jerasak, Souriya, TJ, Kara, his adopted grandchildren: Sattaphone, Hoy, Karina, Marisa and Anna and many other beloved cousins, nieces and nephews.  Calling hours will be on Friday, March 31st from 4 to 7 pm at Vay-Schleich & Meeson Funeral Home at 1075 Long Pond Road, Rochester, NY 14626. A traditional Lao funeral will take place on Saturday, April 1st starting at 10 am at Vay-Schleich-Meeson Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Phokham Khonesavanh’s name to his faith community, the Wat Lao Asokaram Laotian Buddhist Temple at 55 Galusha St, Rochester NY 14605.

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