One of the Good Guys

Thavisak “Lucky” Sypanthong

If you’ve ever crossed paths with Thavisak “Lucky” Sypanthong, I’m betting that you find him to be an impressive man. He’s someone who can win you over in various ways from his love of family, ambition, kind and generous nature, and willingness to give back to the community. Some people are successful in one area of their life, and then there are people like Thavisak who get it right all the time.

Even though I taught for 31 years at Pine Hill School, I never had the pleasure of teaching Thavisak or his brother, Thaksinh, when they passed through our school district many years ago. For years, we used to keep track of the top readers in the school through the Accelerated Reader program. This was a supplemental program where students read independently and took assessments on the computer that measured their comprehension. Both brothers were avid readers and read far more than any other students in the school. Reading 1-2 novels per day/night was typical for them.

I didn’t get to know Thavisak until years later when his oldest daughter attended Pine Hill. He and his wife, Bao, were leaders in Parents Club, the parent/teacher organization in the district. Unfortunately, there were many years where involvement was lacking, and much of the work of keeping the group afloat fell into the hands of a few dedicated souls. Bao and Thavisak were president and vice-president, not because they relished these roles, but because they saw a need and were trying to help. I developed a great appreciation for them during those two years because Parents Club would have folded without their efforts.

Thavisak and Bao

Thavisak gave himself the nickname Lucky, and the backstory behind the name reveals a lot about his character. He believes that people make their own luck through hard work and resiliency—that we realize our potential not through luck but perseverance and belief.

One of the most impressive things about Thavisak is his humble nature. He graduated from Humboldt State University with degrees in English, Engineering, and Business. As if that wasn’t enough, he also has a minor in French.

While his parents’ dream was for him to become an engineer, Thavisak forged his own path. Upon graduating, he jumped into real estate and became a broker. He is the owner of Lucky Star Realty (there’s that “lucky” theme again) in Eureka. Nothing gives him more pleasure than to help people reach their dreams by becoming new homeowners.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Thavisak in his business. When the market crashed in 2008, he had to endure a massive downturn in housing. He weathered the storm and maintained his real estate company during that period by finding other full-time work so his family wouldn’t have to suffer.

One of Thavisak’s passions has always been skateboarding. It wasn’t all that surprising that he and Bao opened the Eureka Skate Shop (430 Grotto Street in Eureka, CA) to serve the community of local skaters. He also enjoys running a skate camp every year for the City of Eureka. Many of the young skaters he taught to skateboard have stayed in touch with him as they’ve grown. They look up to him as a role model, mentor, and father figure in more areas of life than just skating.

Eureka Skate Shop
When Your Broker Surprises You with the Best Closing Gift.

Thavisak and Bao grew up in a family culture. They have been married for fourteen years and have a lot of pride in their four kids (two boys and two girls). All their crucial life decisions focus on what is best for their children. Not surprisingly, their kids are growing into smart, kind, and humble people who will carry on their parents’ traditions and beliefs.

Thavisak and Bao’s Pride and Joy

This article would not be complete without mentioning the numerous ways Thavisak gives back to the community:

  1. Runs the annual skateboard camp in Eureka.
  2. Serves as president of the NorCal Lao Foundation.
  3. Volunteers as reflections chair of Cutten Ridgewood PTA.
  4. Participates in the City of Eureka’s Get Out and Play Day.
  5. Serves as a board member for the Humboldt Skatepark Collective.
  6. Works on various committees for the Humboldt Association of Realtors.

Thavisak has pride in his Lao culture and community and has promoted and participated in the Hmong New Year celebration in Del Norte County. COVID has prevented this celebration from taking place the past two years, but one of his future goals is to be more involved in the Lao/Hmong community, both in Del Norte and Humboldt County.

It might be a surprise to some to learn that Thavisak has other hidden talents besides skateboarding. He is a great comedian, enjoys telling jokes, and has an infectious laugh. He also likes to rap, following in the footsteps of his inspirations, Dr. Dre and Eminem. He has even appeared on the radio, taking part in rap battles, a one-on-one competition against other rappers.

Bao is understandably proud of her husband. Her words say it all. “I love his positive mindset. He is a great guy! I really can’t believe it sometimes that I am with this man who is so caring, loving, and kind to everyone.”

I think the true measure of a man is not so much what he does for himself but how he enriches the lives of those around him. I know I’m not the only one in our community who feels “lucky” to have Thavisak be a vital part of ours.

92 thoughts on “One of the Good Guys

  1. Lucky and Bao are what every community hopes for. How “lucky” you were to have them as part of your school community!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor March 4, 2022 — 8:33 pm

      You couldn’t meet nicer people, and they both do so many amazing things to make our community a better place.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful people to have in your community! I am finding a lot of this type of spirit in the new city we moved to and I just love it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor March 4, 2022 — 8:37 pm

      He sets an excellent example for his family, the kids he works with, and the community. Some stories scream, “write me.” This was fun to do.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. What a fabulous tribute to a man who serves his community…You are all “lucky”…Have a great weekend, Pete 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor March 4, 2022 — 8:40 pm

      He’s easy to root for because he is such a great guy. He is a devoted family man as well. I’m reminded of JFK’s words, “Ask now what your country can do for you but rather what you can do for your country.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s a good motto to live by and mirrored by the brave people of Ukraine of whom many are staying and fighting back…

        Liked by 2 people

  4. More people should believe you make your own luck. Lucky seems to also spread his around. He sounds like a wonderful person.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor March 4, 2022 — 8:43 pm

      I was tickled to hear Bao’s explanation as to where the nickname came from and the meaning behind it. It’s hard not to respect anyone who creates their own good fortune while improving the lives of those around them.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. What a inspirational guy! Wow on 1 to 2 novels a day! I thought I was a fast reader but not that speedy.
    Wonderful how he reaches out and helps others.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor March 4, 2022 — 8:44 pm

      I remember him as this quiet kid who was always in the library. Now, he has a very engaging personality.

      Like

      1. Sounds like he really came out of his shell.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. What a shining example of how giving back comes with the reward of happiness in your life. You always find the best characters, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:15 am

      Thavisak is one of those guys who always bring positivity. Not only do you brighten somebody else’s day, but you feel good about yourself. That’s the ultimate win-win.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You are indeed very lucky to have ‘Lucky’ in your community. The world depends on unsung heroes like him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:18 am

      Lucky is the definition of a self-made man. I had fun writing this story and learning a few things about him that I didn’t know before. It was touching to hear the sweet things that Bao said about him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They sound a lovely couple and are clearly made for each other. Inspiring subject matter for you 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  8. What a nice tribute to a wonderful, caring man. We could use more people like Thavisak.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:20 am

      It feels pretty great when we see the good guy come out on top.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for starting my day off right with your heartwarming tribute to Lucky!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:22 am

      How can we not respect someone who demonstrates what it means to be a caring human being?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely right, Pete!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Lucky and Bao sound like wonderful people to have in the community. My dad had that same philosophy that people make their own luck through hard work and resiliency. A great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:24 am

      Right, Darlene! In an era when many adopt a “woe is me attitude,” this is a good lesson about making your own breaks in life through perseverance and hard work.,

      Liked by 1 person

  11. how lucky the community is to have lucky and bad and his family in the community. what a wonderful combination of work ethic, kindness, generosity, and humor. he is a model to emulate

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:27 am

      I can’t help but think of his kids and know what it means when parents demonstrate what it means to be selfless through their own actions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. there is no doubt they will follow in his footsteps

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow! This is a fantastic post in tribute to one amazing and inspiring guy. Thavisak makes a real difference to so many people through his activities showing real commitment when others just wait for others to pick up the baton, others like Thavisak! I’m sure Bao and the children are super proud of him, and rightly so!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:29 am

      I’ve never learned much about skateboarding, but I see the way kids light up when they learn something new. It builds their self-confidence and self-esteem. Clearly, Thavisak has learned that lesson.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes it’s true that we have to make our own luck. Thavisak sounds an amazing man who is reaping the rewards of his own efforts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:30 am

      It’s just awesome to see good things happening to good people.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. What an impressive person and role model!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:31 am

      A role model for people of all ages—even retired teachers.😎

      Like

  15. What a positive way to start my day! Thavisak has all the ingredients for success – a kind heart, magnetic personality, drive, sense of humor, a loving family and a strong desire to walk the walk (or maybe skate :)) in making the world a better place. Reading his story refills my energy. Thanks Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:36 am

      I feel the same way, Melanie. When we see selfish or cruel people, I appreciate reminders that plenty of other people, such as Thavisak, add joy to the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Wow, wow and wow. A true mover and shaker(skater) in this world! Pete, you’ve touched so many lives and enriched us (me) by sharing how they’ve in turn touched others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:38 am

      I don’t get any credit for this one, Laura. Thavisak is a self-made man. I just happened to cross paths with him and knew his story was worth telling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And you tell (told) it well.
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  17. what a wonderful profile of an amazing man.

    I love how committed he is to his family and his community, and that housewarming gift video was great.

    I wish Lucky the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 8:39 am

      Wasn’t that a great video? Thavisak knew the perfect gift for a fellow skateboard enthusiast.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. HI Pete, this is a wonderful post about a special man and his family. It is always great to read about people who give so much of themselves to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 12:05 pm

      Thavisak is an ordinary guy doing extraordinary things. What better role model can kids have than their own parents?

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I was fortunate enough to interact with him as a student and as a parent. It is worth mentioning that when he was a student at South Bay, he earned more Accelerated Reader points than any other person in the entire United States! I know that his record was never beaten during the time I was involved with the program. It is one of the great rewards of teaching to see students grow into wonderful productive members of our society. This is how the world becomes a better place.

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 12:18 pm

      Thanks for adding this fact about Thavisak. I had never heard that before. Perhaps he doesn’t even know—I think I’ll send him a text. As you well know, Lindy, not all of our students used their God-given abilities. I know you feel the same way I do when you see those that shine and serve as role models for a new generation.

      Like

      1. He knew about it at the time, it was a big deal. I think he even made the local news. His name was enshrined on the polished redwood burl. Do you remember that every year we put a gold plaque on the burl that was engraved with the name of the student who had earned the most PERK points that year? I wonder where it is now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 4:39 pm

        We could ask that same question for 1,000 other things. I wish I had class pictures of all my classes, but I don’t. I tried to track that down once, but who knows if that even exists anymore. I know Linda L., Sharon J., and some of the other ladies kept track of South Bay’s history pretty well.

        Like

  20. A wonderful tribute to “Lucky,” and how lucky we all are to have special people like him in our lives. Thanks for sharing, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 12:08 pm

      Because he’s successful in so many areas of his life (business, family, entrepreneur, community service, skating, rapping, etc.), he will influence a lot of people just by being himself.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. Lucky and Bao are inspirations not just to their beautiful children, but to their community, as well. Some people are givers and enrich the lives of all who know them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 12:11 pm

      Very accurate, Jacquie. They see the critical role they play for their children and community. It’s a good reminder of how our sphere of influence covers a vast group of people.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Lovely post, Pete. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 12:26 pm

      Thanks for reading, John. Love your positive Friday posts—this one fits in that mold.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. What a heartening, uplifting story to read. If only there were more Lucky’s in the world. The best part is you share his story, so others (me) are touched by him and what he does. Lucky is as Lucky does! Thank you for a wonderful post, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 5, 2022 — 2:58 pm

      Thank you, Jennie. Thavisak and Bao are the cutest couple and are raising a beautiful family. Some stories are more fun to write than others, and it makes me happy to share this one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Keep those wonderful stories coming, Pete!

        Liked by 1 person

  24. What a fabulous tribute, Pete! And I love this line: “I think the true measure of a man is not so much what he does for himself but how he enriches the lives of those around him.” Now that’s golden!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 6, 2022 — 10:51 am

      Thanks so much, Jan. I’m sure you’re like me and take inspiration from others. Who knows how many people you’ve through your writing? That’s a legacy to be proud of for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I love how you feature people you know who are local heroes, Pete, who excel in what they do through sheer hard work, dedication, innovation, and a can do attitude. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 6, 2022 — 6:16 pm

      Writing is one of the best ways I can think of to show my appreciation for others. I hope that others will take inspiration the way I have.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. What a heart-warming post about an amazing man. Any teacher feels why this sort of parent is critical to the three legs of the education stool. Thanks for sharing this story, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 7, 2022 — 1:24 pm

      Great father, businessman, community service member, and an all-around great person. In an era where there is such a “what’s in it for me attitude,” it’s a good reminder that other people in our communities are doing the right things. Yay for those three legs of the stool!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Lucky is a real inspiration – it was so nice to read about him here. Toni x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 7, 2022 — 2:14 pm

      So true, Toni. I got most of my notes to write this article from his wife, Bao. It was pretty moving how she spoke about him as a role model to at-risk youth. To inspire others should always be our goal.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. What a great tribute to Lucky! He sounds like such a stand-up guy- extremely kind and generous with his time and well-rounded! I love hearing stories about others giving back!

    I agree with Thavisak that luck isn’t just about being at the right place at the right time… I think it was Oprah that said, luck is hardwork meeting opportunity or something like that! Great post, Pete! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 7, 2022 — 7:11 pm

      There are certain things out of our control that comes down to luck. Why does one person win the lottery? Why does one person get cancer? Why does someone get killed by a drunk driver? Why is one person physically or emotionally abused?

      The flip side is there are many things under our control. We have the power to make the best of our own situation. The beauty of life is we control a good portion of our destiny and the kind of person we want to be. Thavisak is proof of that.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Thavisak and Bao are special souls and how ‘lucky’ you all are to have them as part of your community, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 8, 2022 — 8:25 am

      Heroes and heroines come in all shapes and sizes, Jane. I’m not much of a skater, but Thavisak is a big supporter of the skating community.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Lucky is one impressive man! How he finds the time to juggle all of those endeavors is incredible. What an inspiration his light is to those around him and now to those of us across the states. Thanks for sharing Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 8, 2022 — 5:18 pm

      I think you have to be incredibly organized to be involved in so many things the way Thavisak is. It’s a good reminder that we can take inspiration from anyone simply through their actions. Thanks for stopping by, LaShelle. I hope you and your family are well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’re getting there 💜 it’s a painfully slow process but I’m back to writing at least. Thanks for saying that! You’re 100% right about needing to be well organized!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor March 8, 2022 — 5:36 pm

        I’m glad. Your story was gutwrenching to read.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I had to read the arresting police officer’s perspective and that was equally scary. I think I’m learning that the only thing I can do is take it one day at a time, hour by hour.

        Liked by 1 person

  31. He sounds amazing. How nice of you to honor him, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 8, 2022 — 10:01 pm

      This article was an enjoyable one to write. I asked his wife for some information and left my article on his Facebook page. He is an amazing guy.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. This guy deserves to be showcased here. Ambition, smarts, and kindness are a winning combination. You mentioned how hard it was to keep the Parents’ Club together, stating, “much of the work of keeping the group afloat fell into the hands of a few dedicated souls.” That’s what happened to the Honor Society at my institution. Because the students lived off campus and had families and jobs, it was hard to keep it going except for the dedication of a few. Thanks, Pete, for sharing light in dark times. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 9, 2022 — 8:29 am

      I’m betting most people have had the experience of trying to keep a group alive in some form or another. Unfortunately, what typically happens is it eventually folds when too much work falls on the hands of the few involved, and they burn out.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Do you know if his parents were among the Hmong refugees that we sponsored into the US after the VIet Nam War. I remember that some came to Portland. They had been allies of the United States during that war.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 9, 2022 — 12:01 pm

      I learned from Bao that Thavisak is from Laos while she is Hmong. I’m not sure about the history. We have a relatively large pocket of Hmong people living here. I frequently had one or two Hmong children in many of my classes. One of my brothers lives in Minnesota, and he’s told me in the past that they have Hmong families too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The history is fascinating. I am not surprised that California, like Oregon, hosted a number from there.

        Liked by 1 person

  34. A fantastic post of recognition for these wonderful people that the world could certainly use more of. I love your inspirational tribute posts Pete. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 9, 2022 — 7:08 pm

      I know I do many of these types of posts, but I like to remind others about all the good things happening in the world in the middle of all the chaos. Thavisak deserves to be highlighted for all the great things he does.

      By the way, are you home yet or still living it up on the road? Oh, cabana boy… 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love your inspirational posts Pete. No, I’m still basking in the sun. 🙂 You’ll know it for sure when I’m back. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  35. You are also a good guy for shedding light on every day heroes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 11, 2022 — 9:28 pm

      So much negativity in the world. It’s my little way of trying to shine some light on someone good.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. What a great couple: Thavisak and Bao. We could all learn some wonderful lessons from them. So giving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 13, 2022 — 8:39 am

      We love those parents who take an interest in their children’s school and aren’t afraid to contribute somehow. Schools with involved parents make all the difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They sure do, Pete. It all begins in the home. Without that support, our work is much harder.

        Liked by 1 person

  37. Yours is a unique blog, Pete. So often recognizing people for their contributions in the workplace or the community. That’s a great thing when the mainstream media focuses mainly on conflict.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor March 13, 2022 — 2:24 pm

      I think that has something to do with the way I was raised. My parents were outstanding people who always considered the greater good and taught us to contribute something meaningful to society. Some of that undoubtedly wore off on me.

      Liked by 1 person

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