New Smyrna Beach – Rachael Dịu Thị Nguyễn Ho died peacefully at her home in New Smyrna Beach after battling breast cancer for four and a half years on March 18, 2022. She was 54. At her bedside was her husband of 30 years, James Ho, son, Michael He, and daughter, Michelle He. Rachael is survived by her two children, her father, Roger (Dzụng) Nguyễn, and sisters, Huê Phạm, Duyên (Michele) Nguyễn, Huyền Nguyễn and Hiền (Heather) Nguyễn as well as brothers Duệ (David) Nguyễn and Doanh (John) Nguyễn.
Rachael Dịu Thị Nguyễn Ho was born in 1967 in Saigon, Vietnam to Thìn Thị Nguyễn and Roger (Dzụng) Nguyễn. Her family fled the communist regime in 1975, when Rachael was 7 years old, eventually making a home in Orlando, Florida.
After graduating from Evans High School in 1985, Rachael continued her education at the University of Central Florida as an undergraduate, and completed her PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) at the University of Florida. Despite suffering a nearly fatal car accident with her sister, Huê, in 1990 while in graduate school, Rachael surprised the medical team treating her. The accident left her in a coma with brain damage and paralysis. Over the next two years, she would make a full recovery and she triumphantly graduated from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy in 1993 with High Honors. Most importantly, she met her husband James Yi-Hung Ho, a student at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. They married in 1992.
During her studies at pharmacy school, she completed pharmacy internship programs at Florida Hospital and K-Mart for four summers. Upon graduating in 1993, she began her professional career with Publix as a retail pharmacist. Following a move with James to Bradenton, she became a staff pharmacist at St. Petersburg All Children’s Hospital, and later at Columbia Blake Medical Center for two years. James and Rachael decided to return to Orlando in 1996, where she became a staff pharmacist at Arnold Palmer Hospital For Children & Women until 2001. Rachael then joined her husband’s private dental practice in 2001 as office manager and primary insurance specialist to build out the family business.
Rachael loved her family fiercely and dearly. Rachael had a mischievous sense of humor, a charming smile, and ringing laugh. She was devoted to her family and friends. Her son, Michael was born in 1996 in Bradenton, and her daughter, Michelle, was born in 1997 in Orlando, at the same hospital she worked at. Her children were her pride and joy and she overcame immeasurable challenges, moving mountains to ensure that her children would grow up with all opportunities imaginable.
She loved dancing to her favorite 70’s and 80’s songs, country music and the Bee Gees. She most looked forward to warm and boisterous family reunions with her 6 surviving brothers and sisters and her 14 nieces and nephews. Rachael cared for several family pets including birds like cockatiels and quaker parrots, rabbits, and her beloved chihuahua Sammy.
Rachael had an adventurous spirit and loved traveling and taking roadtrips to new places. In May of 2021, she embarked on a 20-day cross country road trip. Beginning in Florida, she made her way to Yellowstone National Park and Moab, Utah, reveling in the wide open American scenery in between. She was thrilled to see the hot springs, bison and moose and even snow, for what would be the last time in her life in Yellowstone. She discovered a deep adoration for red rock country and her favorite experiences included driving through Capitol Reef, exploring Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon alongside her husband, James, and daughter, Michelle. Upon her return from her epic journey in June, she discovered the breast cancer had metastasized to her brain, a catastrophic diagnosis. Against all odds, she would live for another 10 months, despite the doctors’ predictions.
Rachael’s life was defined by her unflinching devotion to family. From making her way to a new country, to making a home in the United States, to defying death in her car accident, her love of family allowed her to overcome insurmountable odds. Similarly, her boundless love is what gave her the strength to fight an aggressive cancer for four and a half years. In spite of everything, she managed to find humor and joy in the mundane things in life such as singing and dancing to country music while brushing her teeth, or singing silly commercial jingles of old, like “Almond Joy’s got nuts…mounds don’t”, even to the very end. She will be dearly missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to witness her devotion, joy, and ability to find humor in the bleakest of circumstances.
Rachael Dịu Thị Nguyễn Ho was one of the most beautiful souls to ever walk the earth. She will be dearly missed and her memory cherished by all who were fortunate enough to know her.
The Ho family also extends its deep, sincere appreciation to all immediate family members and their neighbor, Donna Farella, who tirelessly lent their helping hands and support throughout Rachael’s battle against cancer.
At her request, there will be a small memorial service. In lieu of flowers, the family would like that donations be made to Mayo Clinic or a charity of choice.
4:00 pm Visitation
5:00 pm Celebration of Life
Order of Service:
- Welcome & Prayer
- Tribute- Life of Rachael, James & Michelle
- Sharing- Vietnamese American Student Association
- Message- Reverend Dr Philip Fong
- Closing Prayer- Reverend Dr Philip Fong
Reception & Refreshments to follow until 8:00 pm
1 N Causeway