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Saigon Kid Kim Ruoff’s Daughter Connects With Saigon Kids

By Tess Ruoff Hallinan

RE: Ron Ryan message of March 25, 2011

KIM RUOFF Vietnam 1963-1965
Laos 1965-1968

Kim Ruoff was my mom. I just graduated from High School – June 5, 2011 – and live in Brookline, MA with my dad. My mom died in 2003 and I just happened onto this site. Wow! I have a lot of pictures of my mom in Laos and Vietnam and love to hear stories. My aunt Lees, my mom’s older sister, lives in MA. She came to my graduation. Wish everyone well. If you have any old pic’s love to see them.

My grandfather, Jay Ruoff, is still going strong!!!!

Tess

10 comments to Saigon Kid Kim Ruoff’s Daughter Connects With Saigon Kids

  • Kim (Westlake) Life

    My mom knew yours in Laos and Vietnam. My mom writes: In Saigon, [your mom] asked me to review a movie about living in Vietnam that they were considering showing to newcomers. She wanted to know what I thought of it, and whether it might be too scary. So we watched the movie and afterward, as we were leaving the building, someone told us that Danang had just fallen! Well, needless to say, that was the end of the movie! And we were all out of there in no time! Sorry to hear she’s gone. She was a cool person!”

    Thought you’d be interested. I was med-evac’d on April 20, 1975.

  • Ron Ryan

    Hi Tess,
    Congratulations on your graduation from High School. Sorry to hear about your Mom’s passing. I think I was in the second or third grade when I knew her. She was one of my sister’s friends also. I have a yearbook picture of her and when I get a scanner maybe I can send that to you. Wish you the best.

    • Ron – Which Gecko Year Book (year) is Kim’s picture in? Also, what class and page number? If I have a copy of that year book, I can send you Kim’s picture to forward on to Tess.

      Bob

    • Tess Ruoff Hallinan

      Thank you, Ron. I would really like that. Not a day goes by withut thinking of her, still….. and she died eight years ago.

      Tess

  • Sandy Brady Christiansen

    Tess,
    I lived across the street from your mother, Kim in Vientiene, Laos. We were best of friends for a while-until a boy got in the way! I have wonderful memories of the adventures we had together during this time.
    The Ruoffs left Laos and went to Turkey. Kim and I kept in touch via letters for awhile. I was very sad to find out she had passed away about a month before my mother did in 2003.
    Your mother was a wonderful person. I wish you all the best.

    Sandy

  • Tess Ruoff Hallinan

    Thank you Kim,

    I would love to hear any stories about my Mom, of course.

    Wishing you the best

    Tess

  • Tess Ruoff Hallinan

    That would be very nice. Thank you so much.

    Got to get back to class. My first semester at college.

    Tess

  • Tess Ruoff Hallinan

    Thank you, Sandy.

    Today is the anniversary of my mom’s death – 8 years ago. I love to hear all stories about my Mom in K6, riding wild ponies in Laos and having “meaningful” conversations with Buddhist monks.

    My dad said these words at her funeral:

    I was given the gift of accompanying Kim over life’s threshold. It was not the first death at which I was present, but it was the first that I attended with the fullness of my being. It is not possible, at this time, for me to separate this gift from disorientating pain and grief. The gift and the disorientation come together, perhaps they really are one.

    Kim could bear the most difficult, dangerous situations in the most extreme environments and come out of them, in style, (let’s not forget stylish, too) ready to enjoy life to the fullest that it was willing to give her. She grew up in Vietnam and Laos during the Vietnam War. She also lived in France, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand and Mali. Kim always said that she led a fantastical life. In the last month, she documented, with the assistance of a hospice nurse, wonderful stories for Tess. Stories from magical lands. Kim told of riding wild horses, bareback, on the plains of Laos and having “deep” conversations with Buddhist monks at the age of 11 and 12, about Tess’ age now.

    Her sparking eyes and wide smile welcomed and challenged the world with eagerness, sassiness, and humor. In the most difficult times, she was cheerful, with an easy coolness of disposition that somewhat defied the idea of death itself, or at least made it seem remote, even improbable.

    Though her body was ravaged with cancer and she was unable to stand or walk for the last 4 months of her life. Kim’s being filled room 170 of the Rogers Care Center; room 170 forever became Kim’s room –that’s what the nurses told me. Her compelling presence always filled the space and time where she happened to be. She fought for and enjoyed every last day of life. At hospice, she was always singing songs and swinging her hands slowly and rhythmically to her songs or ours as friends, family and nurses joined in. She listened intently to each of us, talked with whomever was present –mainly to cheer them up and smile some more. Kim danced gracefully and energetically without being able to dance. She got the nurses hooked on jazz, blues, classics, Jimi Hendrix and Tess’ flute. Kim was worthy of her suffering; she instructed us on how to live as we die.

    I’m told by “reliable sources” that she had hundreds of boyfriends from all over the world! Many continued to be her friend years after the dating was over. Women friends commented on her physical beauty. More than once, men and women would say to me, “she’s drop-dead gorgeous, how did she end up with you?” I replied that she hadn’t had the opportunity to date a hick from New Hampshire until me and I was a real native! But, seriously, I am still thinking about how to answer that question.

    Before I married her, I knew she was a shopping queen with a soul as deep as Buddha’s.
    Or was she Buddha with really good clothes? Kim’s spiritual growth far exceeds my own –it has moved beyond the fourth dimension and is playing in a fifth. She gave me the courage and skills to be forever open to the intimacy of the present moment. The last thing that I remember her saying is that she wanted me to fly and do it with another soul mate.

    We do not know exactly where she is, but we know her spirit is all around us. Kim could be:

    The flash of a firefly in the night
    or the breath of a Peninsula deer in the wintertime
    or the shadow that runs across the tall grass
    and loses itself in the sunset.

    Mommy, with so much love, gave us and the world you, darling Tess. And you, Tess, gave mommy so much joy.

  • Sandy Brady Christiansen

    Tess,
    I know what you mean about not a day goes by with you thinking of your mother. My own mother died October 19, 2003. She was 77 and I was 51 at the time and I still think of her every day.
    What a beautiful tribute your father gave to your mother. I wish I could have reconnected with her before she passed away.
    Much love to you and your family,

    Sandy

  • Peggy Sullivan

    I have had many an occasion to think of Kim, with whom I used to play the most silly game of Indian Squaws on our respective horses in Vientiane. (Her particularly cool friends would be surprised to know she still was playing in between experimenting with higher spirituality). I was just a year or so younger, but we found ourselves together again in an odd period of time in the suburbs of DC (1972-1973). I recognized her right away, and luckily for us (me) we became swift friends at the newer level. Walking around the streets of then-hippie overrun Georgetown, there was no one who could merge her cultural life with her current surroundings like she did. One time I sat on a porch swing between her and a friend of hers, also named Kim — so I said I felt like a Kim sandwich. Then we gamely underestimated our combined weight just as we found our butts roughly let down to the floor.

    Yes, I hope I have more memories to share. She had a lovely giggle and a distinctive walk.

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