Pen was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer in June 2018, and had been undergoing chemotherapy. Last month, he opted to stop treatments and spend time with his family and friends.
“During the past eight months we cared for him the best we could and we were all with him during his last few breaths. He went away peacefully. Exactly the way he wanted,” wrote Chann Kong, Pen’s cousin.
The family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover funeral expenses. There will be a celebration of life on Saturday, May 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bradshaw Funeral Home, located on Rice Street.
“I haven't really been able to say much but Monday, our family lost our beloved father. He's built his restaurant where many families can come and celebrate under his roof he built with his own hands. He's touched many communities out there and taken many people in to help out where he can,” wrote Andrew Pen, Pen’s son.
“We lost someone who was our pillar of support to many people out there. If you guys knew my father, you knew he was a hard working man who worked in his restaurant and his second job as a third shifter. He spent every ounce of his breath just working hard for others, barely giving him time for himself.”
Pen fled Cambodia via a refugee camp in the Philippines, and eventually settled down in St. Paul in 1983. He met his wife, Sopheang, in the United States and together they started Kolap Restaurant. Since then, they have hosted numerous parties and banquets, particularly for members of the Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong communities. The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler also pronounced Kolap’s sour soup the single most delicious bowl of food in the Twin Cities.