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 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.
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.
This article would not be complete without mentioning the numerous ways Thavisak gives back to the community:
- Runs the annual skateboard camp in Eureka.
- Serves as president of the NorCal Lao Foundation.
- Volunteers as reflections chair of Cutten Ridgewood PTA.
- Participates in the City of Eureka’s Get Out and Play Day.
- Serves as a board member for the Humboldt Skatepark Collective.
- 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.