TRỊNH, Châu Huyền - Mother, Grandmother, Sister, passed away peacefully at her home in San Jose, attended to by her four children. She was 74 years old. Born in Laos, she was the eldest of 11 children. Her parents died when she was 16 years old and she helped raise her remaining siblings. Married to Hoang Hoai Nam, she was widowed at the age of 22.
In 1973, Chau and her two daughters immigrated to the U.S., settling in Monterey, California. She later moved to San Jose where she raised four children as a single mother, scrimping and saving so that her children could attend both college and graduate schools. In addition to her B.A. in French literature from University of Dalat, Chau earned an M.B.A. and post- retirement, a Masters in Library Science from San Jose State University. Trained as an accountant, she had a distinguished and lengthy career with Santa Clara County, working in the Controller’s Office, Office of the County Clerk-Recorder, Sheriff’s Department as well as the Office of the District Attorney, from which she retired in an executive position, in 2004. After formally retiring, Chau worked as a librarian, served on the Santa Clara County Grand Jury, and volunteered with local Bay Area legal aid agencies. She spoke four languages fluently and charmed everyone who met her.
Surviving so many tragedies early in life taught her the value of a life well-lived and one spent in the service of others. She enjoyed a peaceful but active retirement and spent many years with her grandchildren (who dearly loved their “Baba”). When not with her faithful companion, her cat Athena, Chau could be found hiking with her group, the Bay Area Ramblers. Her hikes took her all around the Bay Area, to Yosemite, Oregon, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Croatia. Chau was a world traveler and every year, she planned at least one big trip. She journeyed to China, Japan, Palestine, Israel, Peru (where, at the age of 66, she hiked Huayna Picchu, which, she liked to point out, is higher than Machu Picchu), Guatemala (where she perfected her Spanish), most of the European countries, Cuba, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and her homeland, Vietnam (returning many times, with each of her four children).
For her 70th birthday, she took her children and grandchildren on a cruise to Alaska, and in 2019, she and her family spent time in Maui, where she finished the 13 Crossings hike. Chau loved to watch old movies, and books were her passion–she was a regular and long-standing patron of the Educational Park branch library, and even late into her illness, she made regular excursions to borrow more books.
Chau is survived by her children Christine Linh-Chau Hoang, Jocelyn Van Nguyen, William Ky Anh Nguyen, and Heather Ai Chau Haley, her grandchildren (Maddy, Yoshi, Franny, Noah, Logan, Louise), her siblings and numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 10 am Monday, June 20 at Darling & Fischer Garden Chapel in San Jose, CA.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to Doctors without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org) would be appreciated.