Qhua Lis Vaj passed away at his family home in Skyway on April 21, 2021 at the age of 82. His devoted and loving wife, Heur, and daughter, Lee were by his side as he passed on to rejoin his parents, siblings, daughter, Paj, and son, Tub Yaj.
Qhua Lis was born in 1939 in Oudomxay, Laos. He was the third eldest of five siblings. He met and married the love of his life, Mai Zhoua (Heur) Yaj in 1959, and together they raised 11 daughters, and two sons.
Qhua Lis was a member of a Hmong Special Guerrilla Unit recruited by the CIA to fight communist insurgents in the remote mountains of Laos during what is now known as the U.S. “Secret War.” After the Fall of Saigon, Qhua Lis, Heur, and all seven of their children, including a newborn fled on foot for more than a week through dense jungle, avoiding enemy soldiers. In May of 1975, they were able to find relative safety in the Soptuang Refugee Camp located in Northern Thailand.
Qhua Lis and Heur had two more kids in the refugee camp, before they were all able to immigrate to the United States in December of 1979. Their first home in America was in Vale, Oregon and then made a new life in Seattle, Washington in 1981. In the US, Qhua Lis always provided for his family. His first job in America was working at a dairy farm. He went on to be employed at various janitorial jobs. He spent the last decades of his life doing what he loved: farming. Tilling and harvesting two acres in Kent, Washington, he returned to the life he would have had, had he been able to stay in Laos. He will be remembered by his children as a hardworking and loving father who made insurmountable sacrifices for their well-being and security. His grandchildren will remember him as “Yawm,” (the Hmong term for grandpa) who always found a way to light up a room, and make everyone laugh.
Qhua Li is survived by his wife, Heur, his son, 10 daughters, 27 grandchildren, seven sons-in-law, and four great-grandsons.
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