Nguyễn Trọng, or “Tony” as many know him, age 92, passed away peacefully in his home on April 13, 2020 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was surrounded by his family and loved ones. He was born in Vietnam on August 19, 1927 in Phát Diệm, Ninh Bình, a village centered around a beautiful stone cathedral where he was baptized as Saint Thomas Aquinas. He is the son of the late Nguyễn Thường and Phạm Thị Khuyên.
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His life in Vietnam was shaped by his upbringing as a devout Catholic. He completed his French Baccalauréat and was fluent in Vietnamese, English, and French. As a scholar and romantic, he became a beloved professor of history, and French and Vietnamese literature, while also working as a foreign diplomat. He went on to work as a news assistant to the BBC and the Los Angeles Times, bureau chief of the Vietnam Press Agency in Jakarta, Indonesia, and a foreign correspondent for Reuters. He was also the president and founder of the Vietnamese Reporters Guild.
His life changed abruptly in 1975 in the wake of the Vietnam War. As a journalist with the foreign press, he was transferred to the United States where he worked for The Daily Oklahoman covering Indochinese refugees up until his retirement in the 1990s. He had an insatiable pursuit of knowledge and was constantly immersed in research, books, and his own collection of countless writings. In 2000, he was interviewed about his life’s story, which is now preserved in the archives of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Nguyễn Trọng led a life strong in faith and filled with conviction. He was a devout Roman Catholic and a member of Epiphany Catholic Parish. In his 70s, he answered his call to God through his greatest vocation as a lay Carmelite. He adorned his Brown Scapular as a symbol of his life’s consecration to God in the spirit of the Blessed Virgin Mary and his daily commitment to prayer. His faith wove into every fiber of his being. He was humble, patient, kind, lovable, content, introspective, memorable and always smiling.
He lived a full and rich life, filled with the love of many family and friends. He is survived by his wife, Nguyễn Thị Kiều Nga, his four children, Cathy Murray, Stephan Trọng, Germaine Tupper and Marguerite Phương Dung Butchee, and his five grandchildren, Ian, Ethan, Oliver, Nolan and Elise.
His cremation will be done at Vondel L. Smith on April 16, 2020. His funeral service was held at Resurrection Memorial Cemetery with an intimate ceremony on April 17, 2020. A memorial mass will be scheduled for a later date, to be announced.