Former Cambodia Daily journalists paid tribute to Bernard Krisher, the former newspaper’s founder, in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, following the announcement of his death after a private funeral in New York City in the US.
Krisher, a chairman of World Aid for Cambodia and a former Newsweek Tokyo bureau chief, died of heart failure at the age of 87 on March 5 in a hospital in the Japanese capital, a Cambodia Daily online report said on Monday.
Chhorn Chansy, a former Daily reporter, said he regretted the loss of the philanthropist, one who had helped develop Cambodia in the fields of education, health, social affairs and the media.
Chansy added that he learned much in the field of journalism through Krisher.
“He built over 500 schools over the last 20 years,” Chansy said. “He trained young journalists to work professionally and independently to serve people throughout the country, as well as the world.”
Krisher was born in 1931 in Germany. His family fled to the US to escape Nazi Germany, landing in New York in 1941 and settling in Queens.
Krisher, who began his career as a foreign correspondent in Japan, devoted three decades of his life to humanitarian work in Cambodia.
In 1993, he created the Daily to help further promote press freedom in Cambodia following the 1993 Paris Agreements that ended a two-decade civil war.
Krisher considered his greatest achievement to be the creation of the Sihanouk Hospital Centre of HOPE in the mid-1990s, which offers free treatment to the poor.
Krisher leaves behind a wife, two children and two grandchildren.
Died in his sleep
Also passing away this month was Benny Widyono, who served as UN Ambassador to Cambodia in the 1990s and was a member of the board at the Centre for Khmer Studies.
Widyono died in his sleep on Sunday surrounded by his family in Stamford, Connecticut in the US.
Born in Indonesia of Chinese descent, Widyono was granted US citizenship last year.
He lived with his wife in Cambodia for many years, first working as UN Governor of Siem Reap province after the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements in 1991.
Years later, he served as Ambassador and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps as UN Ambassador to Cambodia. He spoke Khmer and held a deep love for Cambodian culture.
After years working at the UN, he served on the boards of both corporations and non-profit organisations, such as Leopard Capital and NGO People Improvement Organisation High School in Cambodia.
Widyono held a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Texas in the US. After retiring as UN Ambassador to Cambodia, he returned to teaching as a professor of economics at Connecticut University.
Widyono contributed extensively to the Centre for Khmer Studies for more than 12 years, providing several lectures and serving on the executive committee of its board.
The Centre for Khmer Studies said it mourned deeply for Widyono’s death and expressed its sympathy to his wife Francesca and four children.