(8-19-21) 41 years ago a family from Cambodia settled in Celina after immigrating from Cambodia. The family quickly became a wonderful addition to Mercer County.

Tong Se Ly, known by everyone as Lee, quickly became a valuable part of a community founded by German descendants. He worked on the custodial staff at the Mercer County Court House, while his wife Kim worked for the City of Celina keeping the Utilities Building on Market St. in great shape as well as City Hall.

They took advantage of the sponsorship of St. Paul Lutheran Church (Washington Township) to build a permanent home in the community and for their family…including children and grandchildren.

Truly a success story….much like many immigrants from Afghanistan are now facing today, Lee and Kim faced an uncertain future in Cambodia, until they had the opportunity to come and live in Celina.


Tong Se Ly, known by everyone as “Lee”, age 70 of Celina, passed away on Saturday, August 14, 2021, at Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati surrounded by family. He was born on November 15, 1950, to the late Song Teck and Taing Ngin Ly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. On October 15, 1973, he married Kim Eng Gov who survives in Celina. He is survived by his daughter, Siv (Dan) Dresher of Springboro, Sue (Bamphot) Huon of Mason, May (Tavis) Wehrhahn of Celina, nine grandchildren: Katie, Kiara, Emma, Dani, Caleb, Grace, Avery, Ezra and Daphne, brothers and sisters-in-law Tong Key (Sokha Huy) Ly of Celina and Tong Nam Ly of Celina, Sisters and brother-in-law Cha Cheng Ly (Sarun Nou), Cha Geck and Taing Bunly all of Cambodia.

He was preceded in death by his parents and sisters Cha Goong and Cha Hoong.

St. Paul Lutheran Church sponsored Tong, his mom, wife and oldest daughter to the United States. On July 21, 1980, they immigrated here. He was formerly employed at the Mercer County Court House as grounds maintenance and custodial supervisor for 30 years. He loved to tell stories and jokes. He lived life to the fullest and had a smile that could light up the whole room. He enjoyed playing cards especially Chinese poker, fishing and finding the best bargains at a garage sale. His pride and joy were his grandkids. He has touched so many lives and will be missed dearly.

Funeral service will be held at 1:00 pm Saturday, August 21, 2021, at the Lehman Dzendzel Funeral Home, with Rev. Richard Van Horn officiating. Burial will follow at the St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Wabash. Friends and family may call from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. on Friday, August 20, 2021 and 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. on Saturday morning before services at the Lehman Dzendzel Funeral Home. Condolences may be shared with the Ly family on-line at lehmandzendzelFH.com.