Fawzi M. Yaqub died on April 24, 2023, at the age of 91 in Fredonia, NY.
Fawzi was born on December 19, 1931, in Anabta, Palestine, the son of Muhammad Hasan Yaqub and Fawzia Faris Abu Ghazala. His siblings were ‘Abd al-Ru’uf, Ratib, Khalid, Inshira’, Adil, Rihab, Faruq, Ziyad, and Hanan.
In 1950, one year after graduating from the Fadhiliah Secondary School in the nearby town of Tulkarm, Fawzi sailed to the United States to pursue his university education, eventually becoming a US citizen. He received a BA in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1954 and a PhD in that subject from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1962. Between his undergraduate and graduate studies, Fawzi served for two years in the US Army, stationed in Austria and Italy. In 1953, Fawzi married Dorothy Seibert of Watsonville, California. The couple had five children and remained together until Dorothy’s untimely death in 1974.
After receiving his PhD, Fawzi taught mathematics for four years at the University of California at Davis. From 1966 to 1986, he taught at the American University of Beirut, where he also directed the Beirut Center of the University of California Education Abroad Program. While in Beirut, he and his second wife, Penny Williams Yaqub, whom he married in 1978, witnessed the horrors of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the first twelve years of the Lebanese Civil War. From 1987 to 1998, Fawzi was Professor of Mathematics at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Following his retirement, he and Penny continued to make Fredonia their home.
“An American by choice,” as he liked to call himself, Fawzi admired the dynamism and openness of his adopted country, while cherishing the communal values and cultural offerings of his native Palestine and Arab world. He was an exuberant and accomplished chef and, with Penny, an appreciator of the arts and musical and dramatic theater. One of his greatest passions was modern Arabic poetry, especially its transformative phases in the early years of the 20th century. He took pleasure in the fact that, despite these changes, modern Arabic poetry has, unlike its English counterpart, retained its rhythm and musicality. In his retirement, Fawzi was invited as a guest lecturer by professors of World Literature at SUNY Fredonia. For ten years, he took pleasure in introducing students to Arabic poetry. In all of these activities, and wherever he was, Fawzi worked to foster understanding and appreciation among cultures and to sustain joy, love, and community among people.
Fawzi is survived by his wife Penny; by his children Rihab, Adnan, Nadia, Samia, and Salim; and by his brother Faruq and sister Hanan.
Memorial services in Fredonia, NY, and in Southern California will be arranged for later this year. Information about the services will be available at fawzi.yaqub.de.
In lieu of flowers, people wishing to honor Fawzi’s memory should direct donations to the Mathematics Department at SUNY Fredonia (fredonia.edu/give), the American University of Beirut (giving.aub.edu.lb/aub), the Yaqub Family Charity (email@example.com), Darwin R Barker Public Library (barkerlibrary.org) or the 1891 Fredonia Opera House (fredopera.org).
Arrangements are by the McGraw-Kowal Funeral Home.