Queen Elizabeth Park, 5 March 2016.
Speech of Dr. Rene’ Abi-Rached Honoring
Prof. Georges Abi-Rached, P.Eng., Bench Dedication at QE Park
First on behalf of my family I like to express my utmost thanks for the presence of the Honourable BC former Premier Mr. Bill Vander Zalm and his wife Mrs Lillian Vander Zalm; the Acting Mayor of Vancouver Mr. Raymond Louie, Deputy Mayor Vancouver & City Councillor Ms. Andrea Reimer who are here representing his Worship Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vancouver City Council; his Excellency Counsellor & Chargé d’Affaires Mr. Sami Haddad of the Embassy of Lebanon in Ottawa; the Very Rev. Fr. Stan Galvon representing his Grace Archbishop Michael Miller; the WLCU World President Mr. Alejandro Kuri Pheres, represented today by Mr. George Murr (WLCU World Vice President) and to all here who are attending this event that is graciously sponsored by SFU and the WLCU-BC Council.
First, my family and myself appreciate the hard work, dedication and determination of Miss Carla Zarifeh, President of the Lebanese Canadian Society of BC, Dr. Nick Kahwaji, President WLCU-BC Council, their families and the Boards and members of these two societies to make these two day events successful and enjoyable events to all. Also special thanks to Mr. John Bader the Past President of WLCU – BC for all his work and support.
Throughout His earthly Life my Dad kept saying his wife was his life. Though he is in heaven above, we feel his presence now with us.
His decisions were prompt and fast and he was straightforward in what he wanted in life. When he saw the woman that captured his eyes he made sure he wasted no time. He knew that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In few weeks he overwhelmed her with his love and shortly after they started together building a new life.
Together with his wife, four children they raised, with endless love and endless care. To his children he was and still the rock and their star. His children will always be glad because to them he was a true Dad. He considered his sons in laws’ as his sons too. God blessed him with 2 granddaughters whom he cherished the most. A very happy man they made him till the end of his earthly life.
He was proud of his career as a consultant and professional engineer, as a professor and an assistant dean. Many of his students used to come to his engineering office and home. They used to say as a professor we loved your Dad the most. Not only He made us work hard and smart, he made us socially happy and with big smiles.
He was a practical man who ran a firm of engineers, in the mechanical, electrical and in the structural fields. His firm did major projects in many countries overseas. His projects covered a wide range of expertise in the residential, commercial and in the industrial fields. His projects where unique, as uniqueness can be.
When he first graduated as a young engineer, he was the major designer of the oil pipe line from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon. This project and others in the brought him fame and caused the American University of Beirut to hire him as a professor to build and develop with others a top-notch engineering school under the laws of the State of New York. Shortly after, he became an Assistant Dean. In addition to his faculty duties and responsibilities, he became an engineering consultant and designer in his field for the same University to build several campus buildings as well the American University Hospital at that time. This was and certainly to this date is something rare to see.
His father owned newspapers and other publications. His father was one of the founders of the Lebanese press syndicate in addition to being one of the founders and leader of the Lebanese labor union. Interesting times!!! Business leaders were taking care of the labor force and working together in harmony to the benefit of all.
Similarly, my Dad was one of the founders of the Lebanese engineering syndicate. They were approximately 25 members when they formed it. Since no one of the founding group wanted number 13, he decided to take it because he never believed in superstitious bad luck numbers. Currently the numbers of engineers in the Lebanese engineering syndicate are close to 50,000.
His fame in his career increased year-by-year. He met Royalty, Presidents, High Ranking Governments Officials and dignitaries throughout his career. They respected what he had achieved, and, in lieu of that they made sure to give him projects that were difficult to engineer. He engineered many palaces for Kings, Presidents and Emeers. He engineered many governmental ministry buildings, hospitals, hotels, beach resort complexes, private residences and palaces (even some of private residences had areas of several thousand square meters each). He designed and engineered large spherical gas tanks, large oil tanks, pipe asphalt lines from ships to shore tanks. He designed complete university buildings and the list goes on and on. One of the thousands of projects he designed in his career was redesigning the Victoria Esquimalt drydock pumping network, a project that had encountered technical difficulties since its inception in 1928. In the nineteen nineties he redesigned and reengineered. Thank God he engineered successfully his work as he did throughout his career.
Few of his projects will be shown in the slideshow at the VanDusen Gardens Floral Hall.
He received many awards and medals for his achievements as a humanitarian and as a professor & engineer.
To many he became the mentor, the friend and the colleague. He treated many like his children, they cherished him and so did he. He never used gender, religion, race and color as a basis in his professional dealings nor in his humanitarian and charitable deeds. He kept the Lord guiding his life and deeds. His help to others was endless and expected no return on any of his good deeds.
He was a self-made man who never relied on the wealth, status and the contacts of his parents. He worked at young age in order to build his own path which was important to him and to his career. From there on he kept working hard to establish his career and at all times took his work very serious whether it was for a small project or for a dream. His personal efforts and achievements caused him to become a leader in his engineering field.
He believed in shake hand policies and verbal commitments rather than hundreds of pages of contractual agreements. In the early eighties he was awarded the engineering design of phase 1 of a whole University with a budget cost exceeding one billion US dollars. The entire agreement was couple of paragraphs.
His number one hobby was playing Chess and won various chess awards throughout the years.
It is amazing that one can see from this bench The Holy Name of Jesus Parish that my father was a proud parishioner of, and, so is his family.
My Dad treasured Canada and the freedom in Canada. My Dad treasured our beloved city Vancouver. My dad treasured the friendship of many here in this great city, in the lower mainland area and other places in Canada. He enjoyed the beauty of Vancouver and its parks. In particular he enjoyed this QE Park and this area, since for the past 27 years we lived only a few blocks from here.
My Dad was a proud member of the Lebanese Canadian Society of BC (WLCU, Vancouver Chapter). He enjoyed and appreciated the social events and the hard work of the WLCU in BC in keeping only the good traditions alive.
Dad, God only knows how much your family misses your tenderness and warmth that filled our world with love and joy. God only knows how much your family misses your smile that used to brighten their days and light their nights.
Last Thursday night March the 3rd Dr. Nick Kahwaji texted me a photo of this bench. It was the first time we saw the bench. March the 3rd was also his birthday. Happy Birthday Georges.
Thank you all for being here,
God Bless Canada and May God Bless All present here.