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October 01, 2006


Dearest Leila,

I was greatly moved by the thought of so many people, so far away, coming together in that beautiful church to honor the remembrance of Elias. This speaks eloquently of their love and respect for him as a son of the village. I wish we all could have been in Mieh Mieh.


your Uncle Edward

Dear Leila:

I thought of your father - my uncle - all weekend. He was such a good person and so intelligent! There will never be another such as Uncle Elias. He was always interested in me and in my career as a computer analyst and in some of my jobs I held with NASA. Some may not know but I think he designed some of the International Space Station pieces and parts - truly an engineering genius.

He and Mary Edith also visited us in Denver as they came through the area on train in August of 2000. It was exciting to have my honorable Lebanese Uncle and Aunt Mary Edith visiting us - and my children still remember his writing their names for them in Arabic.

So now - how do you say "Peace" in Arabic?

Love to Everyone and Many Thoughts of you During this Sad Time,


Leila, Khalil, and Mary Edith (and all other California relatives):

I have been so saddened about the news of Uncle Elias's passing. I really have been in somewhat of a state of disbelief, because we all got to spend such precious and memorable moments just a short time ago (less than a week ago). It's so difficult to comprehend.

I think back over the many years I have had a special affiliation with the Abu Saba family. We have been through so many wonderful events together! I think about the trips to Peoria, Illinois and to North Carolina and my very recent trip to California! All trips were wonderful in one fashion or another.

Uncle Elias was a truly remarkable and striking human being. He added so much depth and color to our Bentley family. There will never be another human being like him, but I will treasure all the things he did to add specialness to all that he did. I will recall how he loved family and the lengths he'd go to just to see someone!! I think back also as to the many Arab relatives he and Mary Edith sponsored as they began their lives in America. And, now look at the multi-cultural world that has now evolved. He taught us how to love peoples of all nationalities, and he taught us how to be understanding of their many religious ways, even if they weren't the same as ours. He was the first one to open my eyes to this understanding that I now have and that I have thereafter seen in my many travels to other countries.

Thank you, God, for having shared such a wonderful human being with us, even though I wish you would have let us have him a little longer. I know I am selfish in this regard, but we miss him already.

I go in peace,
Stephanie and also Steve Reger

Dear Leila,

I too was moved by the memorial in Mieh-Mieh. It was a honor to meet your father, and it is easy to see the impact of his life on so many others. It is a true testament to a great man and the love and respect others have for him, and he has for others.

He will be greatly missed, and I will regret not having known him more deeply.

Love and peace,

Uncle Elias, wow, what a man, what a life.

I will forever remember this truly unique man.

His love for family.
His commitment to Lebanon.
His passion for life.

And his time that he gave to each human he encountered to speak with and to listen and to share a kind word always.

The story posted by Leila concerning the domed roof on the church is classic Elias.

A domed roof with no supports?! Surely it will fail and crash in and hurt people and dishonor his family. Certainly all of this will happen! How can such a dome stand on its own without visible support?

Because it is, by natural shape and design, strong from within and cannot be brought down by weaker forces. This, Uncle Elias knew, and he challenged the church goers to have faith that the roof would work and that it would stand. And so it did.

And so did Uncle Elias know, for he was a man of knowledge. And more importanttly, he was a man of faith...

Thank you for sharing the story of your father's life. What a wonderful legacy he has left to his family.

Dear Leila, Khalil, and my Sister, Mary Edith, wife of Elias Abu-Saba - No words could ever summarize our life experiences we shared with Elias and Mary Edith and all his extended family. At first, when they lived in nearby North Carolina, and sponsored numerous relatives coming to this country, we even knew them one by one and by name and recognition. After a time, as our own family grew, it became more and more difficult to know and remember them all! Elias was instrumental in bringing many of his relatives from Lebanon to our country to be educated and begin careers and pursuits of their own.
Elias was part of our own family for over 45 years, and we looked forward to every meeting and event we shared with him and his family. And to think, I have known him longer than Leila and Khalil have! I was even 3 months pregnant with baby Stephanie (commenting above) when I was "matron of honor" in their wedding in 1961! Our most cherished times were when they lived nearby in Blacksburg, VA, while he attended VPI&SU, and we celebrated the births and rearing of our 4 children, 2 to each of us (Leila, Khalil; and Bart & Stephanie to us).
It was Elias who introduced us to Lebanese foods such as hummous, tabbouli, baked kibbeh, baklava, etc. that we had never heard of before but still today look forward to the rare times that we can sample them and remember him.
The very next day after we returned to Virginia from California, we got word from Mary Edith that her beloved Elias had died. I am certain that he waited until our "Sibling Sizzle/Kissen Kuzzens" Celebration was over to depart this life, as he had looked so forward to having this event go on even though we offered several times to postpone or cancel the trip due to his illness. So I will personally take part of the credit for his holding on so long and having such a grand celebration with his family members and friends till the end of his time on this earth. After all, it all started out as my own birthday celebration of the "Sibling Sizzle" and then on to the "Kissen Kuzzens" as more family members participated (I counted 28 in all?) and so on to the "Hope Celebration" of his own life. What a grand exit he made for all of us to remember!!
So much more could be said; suffice it to say that we loved Elias and will miss him very much. He will forever reside in a special corner of our hearts.
Aunt Susan

Dearest family - and one non-related reader - thank you so much for these comments. It's such an honor that you all contribute your thoughts. The "blog" format is so powerful because people can talk back to the writer, and these responses deepen and expand upon the original post. Thank you, thank you.

Stephanie - peace is "Salaam" in Arabic. (You know, like "Shalom" in Hebrew - same root word)

Lark - Dad designed the solar array for the space station. It was retractable, if I remember. He used a computer to calculate how the station's orbit would change with the array arm extended. I'm sorry he's not around for me to ask him for more details.

Edward, Randy, Bart, Susan, Stephanie, Lark - I am so grateful for your words. Thank you.

And Maloof - welcome!

Leila, what wonderful tributes to your wonderful Dad. Along with all Mary Edith's other friends at Randolph-Macon Woman's College, I first knew Elias when he and your Mother were "courting". What a very dear and courtly man, with such a twinkle. And, in his presence, your Mother absolutely glowed. Our visits have been far too infrequent in the intervening years, but my affection and admiration for Elias is undimmed. Thank you for sharing all these great 'snapshots' (both photographic and verbal) of such a remarkable and delightful man. Gratefully, Jane

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