Sunday, September 27, 2009

Maha Phone Mounivong, 1918-2009

Phone Mounivong was born at 9PM on Saturday, February 10th 1918 in Vientiane, Laos. Mounivong was the fifth child in a family of 9 siblings (3 sisters and 6 brothers).

At the age of 11, he enrolled in school for the first time, attending classes at Wat Jaum Thong in Suan Mone. After completing his Buddhist education and attaining the highest venerable level of Maha, he continued to pursue Buddhist learning in Cambodia.

In 1939, he began his professional work by joining the post office in Luang Prabang as a supervisor.

Mounivong married his wife, Khamlek Sundara in 1946, and had 9 children: 5 boys and 4 girls.

Of the nine, two passed due to illness as toddlers. The couple had 20 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

In 1948, he successfully acquired a teaching position in Bangkok, Thailand, and from 1955 to 1959 he went on to teach in an elementary school district. He trained in Thailand for 6 months to further advance professionally, and was soon promoted to the Dean of Lycee of Vientiane. From 1964-1975, he established his tenure as a Professor of Lao Language, and was recognized and given four distinguished awards from King Sysavangvong, including a humanitarian award, and educational award and a national award.

The Mounivong family came to the US in 1981, resettling in Elgin, Illinois. With a great passion in Lao Buddhism and his educational background, Phone Mounivong helped create the initial interest in establishing a core base for the Wat Lao in Illinois, including those in Rockford and Elgin, and many attribute the proliferation of Buddhist temples in his state, thanks to him.

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