Died while en route to see ailing mother
The day before superstorm Sandy blew into New Jersey, retired luggage company executive Amir Badaan frolicked with his grandkids at the second birthday party of the youngest, Brayden. That night, he caught a plane for London, the first leg of a trip to see his ailing mother in his homeland, Lebanon.
From London, the 68-year-old Wayne resident called home.
"How's everyone doing?" Mr. Badaan asked his wife, Carol. "How's the house?"
Mr. Badaan never reached Beirut. He died of a heart attack last Thursday while still on the London layover.
The father of four and grandfather of four seemed in perfect health, his wife of 37 years said.
"At the birthday party he was running around and playing with the kids as usual," she said. "According to the coroner [in London], if he were home it could have happened here. It was just a freak thing."
Amir Badaan was 2 years old when his family fled Palestine for Lebanon. One of eight children, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1969, following a brother to New Jersey. He started his new life with $100 in his pocket, the family said.
With his brothers, Mr. Badaan entered the handbag business, distributing Lebanese-made accessories in the United States. They expanded into luggage and created Totowa-based Badanco Enterprises, which designed and marketed luggage, business cases and travel accessories under its own label and brand names such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne and Pierre Cardin.
Mr. Badaan, who had a background in accounting, was a vice president responsible for shipping from the Totowa warehouse, said Mr. Badaan's brother Mounir, who was Badanco's chairman.
Badanco Enterprises was acquired by Randa Accessories in 2007.
Mr. Badaan returned often to Lebanon, which endured 15 years of civil war and an even longer occupation by Syria. "It was devastating for him to see what happened there," his wife said. "There were many stressful times" including the death of Mr. Badaan's sister as a result of a Syrian test missile strike.
Carol Badaan said her husband had a "gut feeling" this would be his final chance to see his mother, who fell ill earlier this year. The family won't be telling her about Amir's death, she said, adding, "We fear the news would kill her."
In addition to his wife, Mr. Badaan is survived by his children, Jennifer Diminni of Short Hills, Jaime Beatty of Summit, Jeffrey of Wayne and Amira Badaan of Wayne; his mother, Nadimeh, of Beirut, Lebanon; six brothers, Marwan of Riverdale, Hany of Kinnelon, Mounir of Kinnelon, and Samir, Zouzou and Noni, all of Lebanon, and four grandchildren.
Arrangements, under the direction of Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home, are pending.