Editor’s note: Vy Ngoc Nguyen Koller’s wedding last year was featured in our Unions column (With her health deteriorating, a ‘miracle’ wedding in S.F.).
It is with great sadness that the family of Vy Ngoc Nguyen Koller announces her passing on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, at the age of 33 years. Vy will be lovingly remembered by her best friend and husband, Andrew, as well as her family and all of her besties.
Vy long had a sense of adventure and enjoyed planning family camping trips with her brother and sister. She loved to hike and spent time visiting national parks in the U.S., where she collected stamps from 88 of them. She also summited a half-dozen major mountains, including Shasta and Half Dome, and visited seven other countries. She particularly liked France and Turkey and spent time scrapbooking and blogging about her travels on vynguy.blogspot.com.
She and her partner of 10 years, Andrew, built a life together in San Francisco, creating a tight-knit community of loved ones, including their two adopted guinea pigs, Tank and Nitro. They welcomed friends and family to annual parties and dinners and would pack as many as 15 people into their 550-square-foot apartment to celebrate Passover or Hanukkah. Together, they created an environment where their Jewish friends could connect to their faith and non-Jewish friends felt welcome to eat and learn. Andrew plans to continue to host friends and family for these occasions and others in Vy’s memory.
Vy was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in February 2011, but she never let her diagnosis or prognosis define her. She was well-loved by everyone she met, and her smile and positive attitude filled the halls of every one of the various Stanford Hospital units she was on. She always loved quizzing medical students about her extensive medical background to see if they had done their homework. She also gave back to the Stanford Medical community and took pride in designing improvements to the Stanford hospital gowns as part of the adolescent and young adults with cancer committee.
Vy was thoughtful, selfless, generous and empathetic. She had a gift for making sure everyone around her felt special. She could bring people in to any activity, and it was easy for her to understand and connect with people over the things they loved. She was good at sharing joy, including through playing games and sending care packages to her loved ones. Her irreverent sense of humor was appreciated by everyone who knew her.
Vy was also a woman of faith and in June fulfilled a five-year goal of converting to Orthodox Judaism as Vered Chaya. Her conversion was overseen by Rabbi Zvi Block, Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi and Rabbi Joel Landau.
Vy was born in Hayward, Calif., on Dec. 22, 1985. As a student at James Logan High School, she was a four-year member of the varsity swim team and earned the Dan Oden Perpetual Trophy for dedication and hard work. That dedication and hard work would be a hallmark of her endeavors, both professional and personal.
Vy was a member of the crew team at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned a B.S. in Biology, with a minor in writing, in 2008. Vy earned a M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Drexel University in 2011.
She is survived by her husband, Andrew Koller; her parents, KimVan Tran and Phuoc Nguyen; her sister, Anh Nguyen; and her brother, Phong Nguyen.
Vy was buried in a graveside service on February 6 at the family plot at Eternal Home Cemetery, followed by a condolence meal at Chevra Thilim. Vy’s family received friends for shiva, the traditional period of Jewish mourning. In lieu of flowers, Vy requested donations be made to the Send It Foundation, at senditfoundation.org/donate.