Sompong Chanthavong


momSompong of Thai descent, was raised in Laos by her mother and stepfather.  At the age of 17, she met Cham Chanthavong, and later married on February 12, 1972. The Chanthavongs began making a life within their village near the city of Savannakhet, Laos.  They built a home and began their family, their first child a boy Bounheuang born December of 1972 , second, child a girl, Sengsouk born in August of 1975.  Both children fell sick and sadly Bounheuang passed at the age of 3.  Sompong and Cham continued to remain positive and brought new life into the world, a boy Sonphet, in December of 1976.  By the late 70′s, the Vietnam war had ended and with communism spreading the Chanthavongs had to make a choice. Due to Laos’ aide in the war the Chanthavongs, as many families, became refugees.  By 1979, the Chanthavong family was placed on a refugee camp in Thailand awaiting aide.  During this time, Sompong was pregnant with the couples forth child, Lethdar born in October of 1979.
In the first months of 1980, the Chanthavongs began their new life in Stockton, CA. Sompong and Cham learned English, attended school, and set out into the workforce.  Their three children grew up in a loving, strict, and tight-knit family with strong family values and hard work ethics instilled in them.  Sompong worked as a Head Start teacher’s aide and later went into the medical field as a CNA.

By 1994, the Chanthavongs moved across country to St Petersburg, FL to have their family in a better environment and to be closer to their extended family members.  Sompong’s dream was to build a new home for her family, she worked day and night, most weeks completing over 80 work hours a week to save for her dream home.  All of Sompong and Cham’s hard work paid off because in early 1999 they broke ground on the site for their new home.  Sadly, by June her happiness turned to sorrow when she lost her second child, Sonphet, by the hand of someone unknown.  Sompong’s only outlet for grief was to work harder and longer, not only for the home that was almost completed but now for her child’s funeral, reward money for any leads, and her sanity.

Sompong vowed over and over, to never give up the fight to bring her son’s killer to justice.  Year by year passes and each year on the date, her face, her tears, and her pleas were heard through the news channels and local papers begging for anyone with information to please come forward.  She continually stated she will continue on as she did not want to die and her son’s case not be solved.

In 2004, a piece of joy was brought back into Sompong’s heart and some happiness was relived as she became a grandmother for the first time to a beautiful baby boy, Ayden.  In her eyes she could look at her grandson and see her boys young again.  As Ayden grew she could not resist any spare moment being with him and began cutting back from her 80 hours a week to have days with her grandchild.  Everyday she did not see him, she called just to hear his voice and tell him “Grama loves you.”   He was a special gift from heaven to her and he filled her heart with joy.

In late September of 2007, Sompong fell ill and was rushed to the hospital.  After multiple tests, Sompong was diagnosed with a Stage 4 GBS Brain tumor.  This type of tumor is not as common as many other cancers, which takes over the brain very quickly, and is terminal.  Sompong fought a massive battle of will, with days that the only thing that would bring a smile to her face and a light in her eyes was the sight of her grandson.  Sadly, Sompong passed on 11/19/2007  leaving behind her will to not give up.  She did not get her wish to see her son’s killers brought to justice, as she had hope she would one day.

Since Sompong’s passing, the family continues on as she would, telling the story, and hoping that one day someone will hear it.  And that  person will  come forward to bring their son, brother, uncle, and friend’s killer to justice.