COLUMBIA—Oeun Meas of Columbia died Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010, at his home. He was 66.
Mr. Meas was born May 13, 1944, in Cambodia to Dupp Louch and Maiy Koi. He married Yan Khim in 1965. Mr. and Mrs. Meas had five children in Cambodia, but lost them all due to the lack of medicine and clean water during the Cambodian-Vietnamese War.
Mr. Meas and his wife worked the fields by force at a camp under the Khmer Rouge and Communist leader Pol Pot, until Mrs. Meas went blind from malnutrition and couldn’t work anymore. The couple was separated at the camp, and Mr. Meas would steal food to sneak over to his wife.
“He always took care of her," said Mr. Meas' daughter Reth Meas about the relationship between her parents. “Food was scarce, and she would share it with others and give it away. What he did, he did for a lot of people. He just probably didn’t know it.”
Mr. Meas was once caught stealing coconuts and the Khmer Rouge threatened to kill him, but they gave him a second chance — if Mr. Meas could construct a dam by sunrise, he could live.
“He said he started kicking the dirt, and putting dirt up to stop it, but the water kept coming through," Reth Meas said. "Finally he got a whole bunch of grass against it to stop the water from running and when the Khmer Rouges woke up, he was sitting right next to it like, ‘There ya go!’”
“He was funny and was always making jokes," she said. "He never lost his humor, no matter what."
Mr. Meas and his wife eventually escaped the Khmer Rouge during the night and lived in the woods for months before they found refuge in Thailand.
“My sister, Sreyroth, was born in the woods, really, and my mom ripped part of her dress to wrap her up,” Reth Meas said.
Reth Meas recounted her mother's memories of Mr. Meas, as Yan Meas speaks little English.
“My mom says the strongest memory she has of him is from right after she had my sister," Reth Meas said. "In one hand he had my mom and in the other hand he had the baby, and he carried them to the nearest clinic. He really loved her.”
After a long wait, Mr. and Mrs. Meas and Sreyroth were sponsored by Charley and Lorna Rost in October 1980, and relocated to Missouri. The couple had two more children, Veasna and Reth.
“We offered his family a place to stay, and he began to help out with the farm,” Charley Rost said of his friend. “We were very good friends. We celebrated holidays together, and we hunted and fished together.”
While he was still young and healthy, fishing was one of Mr. Meas’ favorite hobbies. After he retired from Weaver Manufacturing Inc., Mr. Meas focused on his love and appreciation of cars. He would often drive to different dealerships just to look at them.
“If anyone needed to buy a car, they would come to my dad and he would negotiate for them," Reth Meas said. "He might not speak English, but he knew numbers."
"He was a good person," she said of her father. "He was always giving. He worked every day and never had a lot of money in his pocket, but he was always giving and never greedy. And he always took care of my mom."
Mr. Meas is survived by his wife, Yan Meas of Columbia; a son, Veasna Meas of Columbia; two daughters, Reth Meas of Columbia and Sreyroth Khun and husband Saroeum of Columbia; and four grandchildren, Cearo Grosvenor, Dezmerin Khun, Julian Khun and Jonathon Khun.
His parents and two brothers died earlier.
Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Services will follow at 1 p.m.
Tributes may be posted online at www.memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.