Houston's Thai Community mourns death of King

- At 88 years old, the king of Thailand has died. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was on the throne for 70 years and was beloved by his people.

Many in the Thai community in Houston say they cried when they heard the news. They said they knew the king had been frail for some time....but still, his death came as a shock.

"Great sorrow and sad…I know it's been for the people here too because…to us -- he is the best king," said Saard Sriyunyongwat, a volunteer at the Buddhist Thai temple Wat Buddhavas of Houston.

On Thursday night, Houston's Thai community gathered at Buddhist temples to honor the memory the king, a man they said was unifying and beloved. The monks at Watpa Srithavorn Meditation Center held a memorial prayer service.

"For just about every Thai -- they grew up -- there was the only one king. He was the unifying figure for Thailand throughout their lives. I think 26 different prime ministers were served under his majesty," said Charles Foster, the Honorary Consul General of the Kingdom of Thailand.

"For all the Thai people -- have the emotion, really sad after we know about the pass away of the king," said Phra Depbuddhivides, the president of the Wat Buddhavas Temple.

"He's like a father to us. In terms of religion, even though he's a Buddhist, he support every religion in Thailand, and they love him dearly," said Sriyunyongwat.

The Thai community remembers him as a champion of the poor and as an incredibly hard worker -- and said the king was an inspiration for people to become better.

"He focused on projects that were good for the Thai people: environmental projects, food projects, supported the arts, the diversity of Thailand," said Foster.

Thai community leaders say there will be more memorial services this weekend.

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