Chi Kong Ly

October 10, 1944 - October 15, 2020
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Sunset View Mortuary
Steve and Marsha Manuel
Won and Palm Aksomboon
Marla and Rick
Elissa Lee Light a candle



Chi Kong Ly, age 82, was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He was the fourth born of 6 children to his parents, Ly Wing Jou and Lau Sai Lan. His father passed away when he was young, and he took care of his mom. He was an entrepreneur at an early age and knew several languages, Cambodian, 3 Chinese dialects (Teo Chew, Cantonese, Mandarin) and Vietnamese. In his early twenties, he started his own printing business in Phnom Penh. In 1969, he was introduced to Koy Hour, and soon after, got married to her. His printing business was not doing well due to the political unrest at the time. Determined to provide for their new lives together, he pursued a gemstone business mining for sapphires and rubies at Pailin Province (also known as Jewel Mountain) near the border of Cambodia and Thailand.


In 1973, they were expecting their daughter, Siov Kheng, when Chi struck a lucky sapphire gemstone that he sold for big profits. That allowed him to purchase lands, motorcycles and build their custom house. In 1975, they had their second child. As the political unrest persisted, the Khmer Rouge regime took over and forced everyone to the countryside. Tragedy struck and they lost their one-month old son to starvation. Money was not worth anything and for the next four years, it was about survival and perseverance. In 1978, they had their third child, Siov Bouy. Shortly after, the Vietnamese army overturned the Khmer Rouge and allowed an opportunity for Chi and his family to escape from Cambodia to Thailand.


The journey on foot took over several months. Chi, his family and his sister-in-law, Koy Kieng Tan, finally crossed the Thai border, only to be sent back twice to the Cambodian border. He did not give up, and on the third attempt he continued to lead his family by following the beaten path for safe passage to the Thailand refugee camp. With his entrepreneurial spirit, he started a small business at the refugee camp by selling Chinese fry donuts and coffee to provide for his family while waiting for an opportunity to come to America. They lived at the refugee camp for two years. In 1980, he welcomed his fourth child, Uy Seng. Soon afterwards, his dream was answered. Chi, his family and sister-in-law were sponsored to America and arrived May 1981 in New York City.


Starting a new life in America with nothing, his friend advised him that living in a small town would provide an easier transition to raise a family, to learn a new language and culture. With that, the family moved to Farwell, Michigan with the support of the members of the community. There he reinvented himself by learning English, learning how to drive, farm and do handyman work. After two years of enduring cold winters, he decided to move to sunny Oakland, California in 1983. With his focus on work ethics, Chi continued to learn various construction skillsets like painting, dry wall and ultimately, every aspect of remodeling a house with an eye for details and perfect quality. In 1989, with a goal of owning their first home in the Bay Area, he and his wife opened an ice cream cafe in San Francisco, where his wife ran the cafe while he continued to work full time at his construction job. During the mornings, he would drive his wife to the cafe in San Francisco, take his children to school in Oakland, then go to his job site. In the evenings after work, he would pick up his wife to go home. On the weekends over seven years, he and son would go buy supplies to replenish inventory and their daughters helped mom at the cafe. He even worked on small remodeling side-jobs with his son. He sacrificed and worked hard so that his family could have a brighter future. He encouraged his children to focus on education and go to college, so that they would not have to work as hard as he did. He was very proud when his three children graduated college from UC Berkeley and UC Davis.


With over 30 years of craftmanship in remodeling houses, after retiring he continued to do various small projects and loved to share his expert advice with his sons-in-law.

With his love of travel and adventures, Chi and his wife were able to travel to many countries such as Cambodia, China, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Denmark, Malaysia, Mexico and Canada. During his travels, he parasailed, fed a baby tiger, rode an elephant and horse. He loved to spark a conversation, at any place, with anyone and made personal connections with those he met. He enjoyed traveling to Cambodia for the tropical fruits, like durian, and also to visit his extended family. He and his wife never forgot their humble roots and paid it forward by helping their families. He was especially proud that he was able to pay for medical school for his grandson who became a doctor in Cambodia.


In March 2016, he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. That did not stop his determination to live. Most of the time, he insisted that he could drive himself to his treatments that involved many blood work, CT scan, PET scan, bone scan, chemotherapy, radiation and doctor appointments. During the last four months when treatment was no longer working, he fought to the very end enduring the pain with a strong mind and big heart. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of October 15, 2020, at his home with his loving wife by his side.


He is survived by his wife, Koy Hour; their children and their spouses, Siov Kheng and Bruce Nguyen, Siov Bouy and Chester Sarreal, Uy Seng and Rafi Burns Ly; 6 grandchildren in America, Nathan, Meghan, Nicholas, Kai, Cario, and Rio; his third brother, Ly Chi Thi, his sister-in-law and two nephews in Shanghai; his 2nd sister-in-law, two nieces and one nephew in Canada; his sister-in-law, Koy Kieng, his brother-in-law, 2 nephews and 1 niece in America.  Additionally, he is survived by his two daughters from a prior marriage and his 7 grandchildren in Cambodia.


Chi Kong’s legacy is one of hard work, determination, selflessness, adaptability, courage, resourcefulness, self-sacrifice, kindness and integrity. He was a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend. He accomplished so much in his lifetime and his legacy will continue. He will be forever loved, missed and remembered by his family and everyone who knew him.


Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are limited in the number of attendees. A private visitation will be held at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and gravesite burial service at 1:00 p.m. will be held at Rolling Hills Memorial Park in Richmond on Friday, October 23, 2020.

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Life Event Timeline

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Timeline for Chi Kong Ly

Born: October 10, 1944
May 1, 1988
Celebrating Chi Kong and Koy Hour’s USA Citizenship – what a gift to the USA!
Celebrating Chi Kong and Koy Hour’s USA Citizenship – what a gift to the USA!
April 1, 1984
1984 The Ly Family in Berkeley, CA
1984 The Ly Family in Berkeley, CA
May 1, 1989
1989 Chi Kong and Koy Hour purchased Uncle Gaylord’s Ice Cream Cafe franchise, Irving Street, San Francisco
1989 Chi Kong and Koy Hour purchased Uncle Gaylord’s Ice Cream Cafe franchise, Irving Street, San Francisco
May 1, 1993
1993 The Ly Family
1993 The Ly Family
June 5, 1996
1996, June 5 – San Francisco Examiner about rent increase to end Uncle Gaylord’s cafe, to be replaced by a pasta restaurant. The neighborhood protested, the SF Board of Supervisors declare a day (I think in July – going from memory here) to be Ly Family Day in honor of their service to the Irving Street SF neighborhood that loved them.
1996, June 5 – San Francisco Examiner about rent increase to end Uncle Gaylord’s cafe, to be replaced by a pasta restaurant.  The neighborhood protested, the SF Board of Supervisors declare a day (I think in July – going from memory here) to be Ly Family Day in honor of their service to the Irving Street SF neighborhood that loved them.
Died: October 15, 2020

Condolences for Chi Kong Ly

Sunset View Mortuary

Our sincere condolences.

The staff of Sunset View Mortuary.


Helen Lee posted on 10/24/20

Dear Siov, I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. My deepest condolences to you and your family. It is so hard to lose a parent. I hope that all the wonderful memories will heal the sadness that you are feeling. Take care, Helen


Matt posted on 10/24/20

Hi Siov Bouy, Siov K and Uy, I’m so very shocked and sorry to hear about your Dad. Thinking of all of you during this time. My deepest condolences from me and my family.


MARK D DIXON, MD posted on 10/23/20

I was young when Chi Kong and his family moved to Farwell, Michigan. I loved the small meat pies the Koy Hour made and remember she gave me a whole bread wrapper full one time. Their youngest was nine months when they arrived. They were a brave and kind family. Many prayers to those who remain for joyful and happy lives!


Steve and Marsha Manuel posted on 10/22/20

Koy Hour, Siov Kheng, Siov Bouy and Uy Seng, Even though we have not connected for decades, it does not mean we have forgotten you. For us, there is a deep heart connection established when you share the love of Jesus with your “church family”. And we remember all of you as members of our “church family” in Berkeley. We remember with much love the smiles, hugs, and laughter we received from Uy Seng, Siov Bouy and Siov Kheng every Sunday. I loved the mint chip milkshakes Koy Hour made at their ice cream shop. And we both recall the excellent work Chi Kong did remodeling our kitchen and repairing some earthquake damage in our home...and Uy Seng helped his Dad! Marsha and I remember Chi Kong with great respect, administration and love. He was quick to smile, eager to help, and discerning of people. There is no question Chi Kong had great love for his family and it is that great love that makes him a great man. Our love and prayers are with and for the Ly family...our “Berkeley Church” family. Steve and Marsha Manuel


Teresa O’Keeffe posted on 10/21/20

Dearest Siov and family, I read the story of Chi Kong Ly’s life - what an amazing life adventure- and I know there was so much more to tell. Words are not enough! But what is evident is the life he built and the family he loved. He lives in your hearts, even if it feels like a big hole right now. You are not alone. May you be comforted by each other’s presence. Love, Teresa


Karen DeGannes posted on 10/21/20

Dear Siov, May you and your family find solace in your Dad's memory, especially the joyful ones. From reading his obituary, he lived a truly remarkable life and touched the lives of many others for the better. It is also abundantly clear that he loved you all deeply. I extend heartfelt condolences to you, your family and all who mourn his passing. Sending you a big virtual hug!


Won and Palm Aksomboon posted on 10/20/20

In memory of Chi Kong Ly, Won and Palm Aksomboon lit a candle


Won and Palm Aksomboon posted on 10/20/20

Dear Ly Family, We offer our sincerest condolences for your loss. A person's measure is not in the wealth and possessions they have accumulated, but the impact they have had on the people they encounter. While we cannot claim to know anyone as well as we would like to, it is abundantly clear that Mr. Ly was a great individual with even the most cursory look at the family he leaves behind. His legacy lives on through them and we consider ourselves fortunate for the privilege of our having our lives intersect no matter briefly. We shall keep the Ly family in our thoughts and know that you will persevere in these trying times.


Marla and Rick posted on 10/20/20

In memory of Chi Kong Ly, Marla and Rick lit a candle


Marla and Rick posted on 10/20/20

Dear Ly Family - Our hearts share with you the sadness of your loss of husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, uncle, brother-in-law and more. We have loved your family since you first moved to Oakland in 1983. We hold so much respect for your Dad and Mom - the challenges they faced, their strong commitment to and love for family, how hard they worked to create a future for you all. Your Dad - so calm and wise, so talented, so determined, such strong convictions about what was right. We have many reminders in our home of his commitment to excellence in his craftsmanship. We always said there simply did not seem to be anything he could not do, and do beautifully. What an honor to have those reminders around us! We will always remember your Dad and be grateful that our lives paths crossed and what we have learned from that experience. Our hearts are with you in your mourning. Hoping you will find peace knowing that his love for you all and his legacy is how he lives on for you to hold and treasure. God bless you all.


Elissa Lee posted on 10/20/20

My condolences to Siov Bouy and to your family, especially your mother. Having a loss in the family can be tough, but always remember, your father left something behind—something wonderful and meaningful—a legacy, a life, and a family. Once a person is gone, they are truly never gone even if they pass because they’ll always live in your heart no matter where you go and no matter where you are. Even if the years go by, there will never be a chance where you’ll ever forget him. So keep on going and living because I’m sure that’s what he would’ve wanted too.