Paja Thao, age 86 of Appleton, passed away peacefully on April 30, 2022, surrounded by his loving family. He was born on July 25, 1935 to Nhia Yee Thao and Txia Lee, in the Village of Chong Houa in Laos. He married Yer Vang Thao and both had 13 children; 7 sons and 6 daughters.
He is survived by his wife Yer Vang Thao and his sons and (daughter-in-laws); Nao Toua (Chai Yang), (Jeu Vang wife of Yong Lue), Koualy (Neng Vang), Qhoua Por (Cib Xiong), Xue, La (Tara Forster), Birthanie (Kathy Moua). He is also survived by his daughters and (son-in-laws); (Khoua Xiong husband of Neng), Pai (Nhia Thao Lor), Zoua (Xai Soua Lee), Kia (Neng Kong Vang), Chai (Yeng Xiong); and all his 130 grandchildren and great grandchildren. He is further survived by his younger brothers Va Chai and Leng Kao; adopted sons Taggart Siegel and Joe Davy; and relatives and friends.
Preceding him in death are his parents, son Yong Lue, daughters Neng and Va, and son-in-law Chong Neng Vang, younger sisters Ya Mee, Joua, and Chue Mee.
Paja was a simple and humble man; he helped all he could and asked for nothing in return. He had a pure heart. Paja was a very caring and dedicated husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend. And most importantly, he was a very experienced Hmong Shaman who helped and touched the hearts of thousands of people throughout his life, including people from other cultures, as well. To keep his memories in our hearts, we can view Paja and his families in two documentaries, “Between Two World” and “Split Horn”, anytime.
Back in Laos, he was a farmer who loved and lived by the land in the mountains of Laos. When the Vietnam War spread to Laos, he fought bravely with the CIA, in Laos’ Secret War. When the war came to an end in 1975, he fled to Thailand with his family. There, he lived in the Ban Nam Yao camp for 9 years, then with the approval from the UN, moved his family to the United States. The family landed in Chicago in 1984 and moved to Appleton seven months later. He lived in Appleton until his last breath at Appleton Medical Center.
Paja loved spending time with his family and helped “Kwv Tij” and “Neej Tsa”. He also loved traveling around the United States with his family, especially the National Parks. His favorites were Mount Rushmore and Devils Tower. His other passions included gardening, hunting, and bird watching. Paja was a very “nquag” person who woke up early and went to bed late, always getting things done. He was a very creative person who created things out of nothing. The world will truly miss him!
Traditional Hmong Funeral will be held from Friday, May 20 to Monday, May 23, 2022 at the Richmond Hall in Appleton, WI. It will be open daily from 8:00 AM to 12:00 midnight, and on Sunday it will be 24 hours.
Paja’s resting place will be at Riverside Cemetery and the ceremony will start at 10:30 AM on Monday, May 23rd.
Families, relatives, and friends who cannot make it to the funeral and wish to receive the Hmong tradition “Koob Hmoov” from Paja may donate to the Paja’s Sunshine Fund (Good Luck Fund) through the site below:
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Paja Thao, please visit our floral store.