PEORIA - Dr. Yahya B. Safdari, 82, of Peoria passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, at his daughter's home in Davie, Fla., after a brief illness.
He was laid to rest in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the next day.
Dr. Safdari was a professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Bradley University, where he served on the faculty from 1964 through 2005. He earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from New Mexico State University, a master's of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and dual undergraduate degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering from Aligarh Muslim University in India.
Specializing in thermal science and pioneering in the use of solar energy, Dr. Safdari was a founding member of the Solar Energy Industries Association, CEO of Sun Systems Inc. and a visiting professor at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. In addition, Dr. Safdari worked for NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and Argonne National Laboratories in Naperville, Ill. Dr. Safdari built solar homes throughout central Illinois and blanketed the roof of Jobst Hall at Bradley with his inventions and those of his students.
Without a doubt, the professor's proudest accomplishments were in educating others, and he enjoyed keeping in touch with his many students as they progressed in their lives and careers.
A man of faith and one of the first Muslims in Peoria, Dr. Safdari was instrumental in building its first Islamic Center and in helping to lead the community over the years. He was also awarded the title of Shaikh in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim tradition.
In terms of interests, Dr. Safdari was an avid traveler and, in later years, a landscape painter. Above all, Dr. Safdari was a dedicated family man with a lively wit and a powerful zeal for life.
He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Saeeda; his loving daughter, Fawzia; sons, Imran, Yusuf and Muhammad; sister, Safia; and grandchildren, Ammar and Ismail.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Dr. Naseem Malik Safdari, a professor of English literature at Eureka College, as well as by his parents and brothers.
The family will be hosting a small memorial event at Bradley University on Friday, March 8.