Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience


Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Luong VanTo

April 2, 2024
Kalamazoo, MI




On Tuesday 4/2/24, Mr. To passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Kalamazoo. He was a devoted family man, a proud American, and a man of incredible kindness.

Mr. To was born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam. His father was a tailor and the family ran a dairy herd of 30 cows on the outskirts of the city. In his early years, he learned the family trade of tailoring. As a young boy, he survived the Japanese occupation of Vietnam during WWII. When he grew to be a man, he joined the military and fought alongside the French in the Indochina War against Ho Chi Minh and the communist forces. His last duty as a colonial soldier was to drive the French troops to the port city of Haiphong where he witnessed the French strike the colours for the last time. He sailed with the French to Saigon where he started a new life.

In Saigon he enlisted in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam rising to the rank of Sergeant Major. For many years during the civil war, he was posted to military headquarters in Saigon. Eventually he was sent to the USA for advanced training in logistics at the United States Army Transportation School in Virginia. Upon successful completion of his studies he was given a command position over the commercial port in Saigon.

While living in Saigon, he met a girl who was also from the north, Miss Nga Thi Pham. They fell in love and were married on October 14, 1956. Together Mr. and Mrs. To had nine children while living in Saigon. Mr. To stayed at his post in Saigon up until the day that Saigon fell. He was able to escape with his family in a small boat and sail down river to board a Philippine freighter headed for Subic Bay in the Philippines.

In July of 1975 the family made it to the USA with only the clothes on their backs, where Mr. To started a new life for the second time. They were sponsored to Kalamazoo by the Second Christian Reformed Church. The To family was the first Vietnamese family to settle in Kalamazoo, a place that Mr. To called home for the rest of his life.

Mr. To worked for several different manufacturers in town, finally retiring from Burroughs Manufacturing on N. Burdick Street. During his working career he always worked two full time jobs in order to provide for his family. He started the Saigon Cafe on Gull Road with his children, which was a successful restaurant for more than fifteen years.

Mr. To was incredibly proud of his family which numbers nine children, twenty-four grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. Among his children and grandchildren many have become engineers, accountants, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Seeing his children and grandchildren succeed brought him much satisfaction in his old age.

Mr. To is survived by his his wife of 67 years Mrs. Nga Thi Pham, children Lan Mong Klop (James), Lan Hoang To (Victoria), Linh Hoang To (Phuong), Lieu Mong Hahn (James), Lien Mong Sweezie (Scott), Liem Hoang To (Hoa), Thuy Mong Richardson (Rodney), Loc Hoang To (Donna), Luat Hoang To (Ella), many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by grandchildren Jeffery Klop, Charlene To and Daniel To.

The family will receive friends 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday, April 8, 2024 at the Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care, Richland Chapel where a time of sharing to celebrate his life will begin at 1:00 p.m. Interment will follow at Prairie Home Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may directed to the Southwest Michigan Veterans Relief Fund. Personal messages for the family may be placed here at