• FEATURES \ Apr 28, 2024
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    Until we meet again, Dad! In memory of Nicola Khoury - By Dr. Rula Khoury Mansour
Until we meet again, Dad! In memory of Nicola Khoury - By Dr. Rula Khoury Mansour

For the Arabic version - https://www.comeandsee.com/ar/post/3019787

On April 24, 2024, my father passed away at 88, after battling Alzheimer's for several years. Throughout this difficult journey, my devoted mother, a retired teacher, lovingly cared for him at home until his final moments, embodying the selfless love of Christ, without a single complaint.

My father originates from the Khoury family, whose lineage traces back to the displaced village of Sajra. Many of his ancestors were priests, as indicated by our family name (Khoury means priest in Arabic).

In 1948, during the Palestinian Nakba, my father at the age of 13 became a refugee in his own country. His family was forced to leave the city of Tiberias and board one of two waiting buses: one was heading east of the Jordan River, and the other was heading towards the city of Nazareth. Fortunately, the family chose the Nazareth bus.

With his family of 10 members, they had to rebuild their lives from scratch, like many other displaced Palestinians. After losing their land and property in Tiberias, my father's family ended up in the coastal city of Akko (known also as Acre, Akka in Arabic, and Ptolemaïs as mentioned in Acts 21:7). As a teenager, he worked in various jobs to support his family. Later he became a vocational education teacher and ventured into tourism. In 1969, he married my mother, Suhaila, and God blessed them with five children: Nasim, Rula, Irini, Dina, and Nizar.

A pioneer and entrepreneur by nature, he dedicated his life to the advancement of the city of Akko and its society, earning widespread respect as an educator and an active member of the broader community. In the 1960s, he contributed to the development of vocational education in Akko, supporting and mentoring young adults with diverse skill sets during challenging times. Many participants at his funeral, including his students, expressed their appreciation and respect for the dedication, generosity, and support provided by him, which has left a profound impact on their lives.

My father was also one of the founders of a pioneering nursery in 1975, first of its kind in Akko. He was active in the Rotary Club, an international organization dedicated to community service and to promoting intercultural understanding and tolerance.

Besides teaching, he also worked in tourism leading numerous tour groups to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In the early 1980s, he brought the “Princess of Akko,” the first tourist vessel to Akko's stunning port. Its arrival constituted an exceptional event for the city, as visitors received a unique insight into the ancient walls of Akko, which hold the stories of countless wars and invasions. Akko's people, with a distinct sense of humor, have a deep-rooted pride in their 5000-year-old city, which even Napoleon with all his glory could not conquer.

Known for his talent in bridge building and bringing people together, his circle of friends expanded across different cities and backgrounds to include Muslims, Jews, Druze, Baha’is, and others. To him, everyone he encountered became a cherished friend. People often turned to him to resolve disputes between families because of his wise handling of situations.

As a follower of Christ, he was active in serving his church, the Greek Orthodox Church in Akko, as he faithfully served on the board of the Congregational Council, and encouraged its integration into society.

My siblings and I saw in our dad the joy of helping others and the responsibility of working tirelessly to make a difference in our surroundings. His actions spoke louder than words —he quietly assisted the needy, distributed bibles, and worked in different ways towards fostering peaceful coexistence among Akko's diverse religions and groups. His greatest passion was to witness a tolerant Israeli society where Jews and Palestinians live harmoniously together. Though the ongoing conflict persists, Akko occasionally exemplified this coexistence.

As a family man, he strived to bring together our extended family from different parts of the world, making every opportunity a chance for a reunion. His presence filled the house with energy; his voice and actions were lively, accompanied by a constant flow of ideas and suggestions. With endless stories, he made our home vibrant and warm. Whenever the grandchildren visited, he delighted in entertaining and spoiling them.

To me, he was more than just a parent; he was my mentor and my inspiration. What I'll always treasure most are the lessons he taught me about faith and resilience. He believed that God protects and guides us even in the most difficult times. He encouraged us to pursue our dreams with boldness and confidence, to face challenges with courage, and to find strength despite difficulties and comfort in the knowledge that there's a greater divine plan at work.

Growing up in a traditional family, my father emphasized my freedom as a young girl to think independently and make my own decisions. This encouragement gently guided me toward many experiences and choices that broke barriers over time. He stood behind me in every decision, repeatedly saying, “Nothing is impossible; dreams come true through hard work and perseverance,” and I still hear those words echoing whenever I face challenges.

Thank you, Dad, for reflecting the beauty of our Heavenly Father through your example of fatherhood. Your guidance has brought me closer to Him.

Today, we celebrate the life of a truly extraordinary man. A devoted husband, father of five, grandfather of fifteen, and friend to thousands of people from different backgrounds.

Baba, your presence will be deeply missed, but you will remain present in our memories and hearts as we continue on your path. Until we meet again in heaven, may you rest in peace in the arms of our Heavenly Father.