Nguyen-Ngoc Linh ’52 died on April 9, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia.
(The following appared online at obits.dignitymemorial.com, April 2017:)
Nguyen Ngoc Linh, Buddhist name Tri Minh (meaning Bright Mind), beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend, passed away Sunday, April 9, 2017 encircled by his family’s love. He is survived by his wife of seventeen years, Pham Le Thuy; his daughter My-Chau, her husband Thong and their daughters, My-Van, Thuy-Van and her husband Stewart; his son Hung and his wife Nhung and their daughters, Natalie and her husband Jeremy, their children Abby and Alice, and Jasmine; his son Quoc-Anh and his wife Natalie and their daughters, Michele and her husband Josh, Mia, and Angelina; his daughter My-Linh and her husband Matthias, and their sons, Manuel and Marlow; his son Viet and his wife Hang and their sons, Avery and Evan. He is also survived by three brothers and one sister, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and close friends.
Linh was born in Hanoi in 1930, the fifth of ten children, to father, Nguyen Trong Tan, a mandarin and the governor of the province of Bac Ninh, and mother Nguyen Thi Suu. While attending secondary school Lycee Albert Sarraut in 1945 and caring for his ailing father, he was captured by the Viet Minh for treason and jailed with the journalist, Nhu Phong Le Van Tien, who became his lifelong friend.
In 1949, he became one of the first Vietnamese students to study abroad when he received a scholarship to attend Bowdoin College in Maine. Upon his graduation in 1953 with a degree in political science and business administration, Linh married Pham Thi Thu in New York City in 1953.
During his time in New York, Linh became a father with the birth of his daughter, My-Chau. He had many jobs, even drove a cab, to support his young family. He studied journalism at New York University and practiced it as a copyboy at the New York Times. It was then that he spent time with Ngo Dinh Diem, future President of Vietnam who would later be assassinated in a coup.
In 1955, one year after the Geneva Convention which split Vietnam into two, President Diem issued a call to all of Vietnam’s students abroad “To Quoc can anh!” (your country needs you) and Linh returned to Vietnam. Just back from the US, Linh did a daring thing which saved his mother from communism and moved the family to the South of Vietnam. The Geneva Agreement of 1954 allowed for 300 days in which people could decide to which zone they would like to go. At first, his mother did not want to leave Hanoi thinking that she would stay close to the graves of the ancestors and, if she had to die, she would die close to her roots. So Linh decided to trick her into coming to meet him and his new daughter in Hai Phong, a day or two before the border closed in May 1955. As soon as he saw her, Linh kidnapped her and put her on a plane going south.
Linh signed up to serve his country and joined the 12th class of the military academy, Thu Duc. He graduated as valedictorian of the officers’ class in 1961. He spent 1961 to 1965 in military service. For the next ten years he continued to serve his country as Director of the National Broadcasting System, President of the Vietnam Press, spokesman for the Prime Minister, Director General of Information and Propaganda, Member of the Cabinet, and Press Officer for the South Vietnam delegation to the Paris Peace Talks. Throughout this time Linh had four more children: Quoc-Hung in 1956, Quoc-Anh in 1957, My-Linh in 1963 and Quoc-Viet in 1967.
Linh became an entrepreneur in 1971 when he formed Mekong Ford, a company that was the only importer of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles in Vietnam at the time. Over the next three years, his business expanded and his Mekong Conglomerate grew to include Mekong Insurance, Mekong Oil, Mekong Glass, Mekong Travel, Mekong Import and Export, to name only a few. Linh was also passionate about education. He founded Nguyen Ngoc Linh English School and Mekong University, forever making an impact on thousands of students.
At the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Linh and his family emigrated to the United States and settled in northern Virginia. They joined Linh’s brothers, Chac and Bich, and sister, Ngan, who were already living in the states. Linh opened “Top of Georgetown” restaurant on Wisconsin Ave.
Linh then moved to Houston, Texas where he owned several food enterprises in Sharpstown Mall. He also founded the national Vietnamese newspaper Ngay Nay and devoted much of his time to community service. He founded an employment agency to find jobs for newly emigrated Vietnamese refugees. In his free time he loved to read, play mah jong, and spend time with his ever-growing family. He made it a priority to attend family weddings, graduations, and other celebrations.
Linh married his second wife, Pham Le Thuy, in 2000 and retired in Virginia. He continued to serve his community by volunteering as a liaison at an assisted living facility to help the residents obtain government services.
Linh’s legacies are his family and his passion for education, journalism, and community activism.