Sambath was born on December 13, 1946 in Kampong Cham, Cambodia,
and lived a life marked by struggle, challenge, and resilience. As was the
case with many men of conscience living in Cambodia in the 1970s, he
was faced with a decision that would change the course of his life. In
1979, Sam and his wife, Sophy Ek Sou, took their two children. Mum
(who was 7) and Koko (who was an infant), and fled the Khmer Rouge.
The family narrowly made it across the border to Thailand and lived in
a refugee camp, where Sophy gave birth to twins Siphon and Siphann.
In 1981, the family immigrated to the United States where their
daughter Sambor was born the following year.
After living in Providence, RI for five years, Sam fulfilled part of his
American Dream and bought a home in Cranston. There, Sam and
Sophy continued the tradition of hosting Khmer families new to the
country, always finding ways to share and help others in the community.
To outsiders, these arrangements might have seemed overwhelming
and a strain on the Sou family. However, Sam understood the teachings
of The Buddha, especially that “generosity brings happiness at every
stage of expression.” Since his good fortune was not acquired without
assistance, he was bound by honor to help those in need.
Sam knew the demands of providing for a family, and so he worked
12-hour shifts as a printer for the Seville Dyeing Company in
Woonsocket. This was grueling, literally neck-breaking work, for in 1996,
Sam was forced to retire after his second surgery on his neck and spine!
Shortly thereafter in 1998, Sam proudly became a naturalized citizen of
the United States, fulfilling another part of his American Dream.
In the final years of his life. Sambath traveled between Cambodia and
the United States, spending time with family in California, Texas and
Rhode Island. He is survived by his children and their spouses, Mum and
her husband Ron Coffey, Koko Sou and his fiancé Mimi Loftus, Siphon Sou, Siphann Sou, and
Sambor and her husband Mike Erickson, two grandsons Nickolas and David Coffey and
sister Suon. Sam is preceded in death by his wife, Sophy Ek.
Calling hours will be held on Saturday, February 29, 2020 in the committal chapel at Swan Point Cemetery, 585 Blackstone Blvd. Providence from 8:00 AM till 9:30 AM followed by a service from 9:30 AM till 11:00 AM.