Shafik A. Tabeek
A devoted family man, larger than life presence and perpetually generous soul, Shafik Anthony Tabeek, better known as "Shef," passed away on May 28, 2020, in Somerset, New Jersey.
Born on September 2, 1942, in Union City, New Jersey, to Syrian immigrant parents Fuad and Lydia, Shef was particularly proud of his heritage and his parents' remarkable 60-year marriage and many achievements in America, including his father's work at a defense plant during World War II and the raising of four children who went on to have successful, fulfilling lives.
Brainy from the beginning, Shef skipped grades during elementary school while growing up in Weehawken, NJ, before earning a B.S. in mathematics from St. Peter's College and an MBA from Syracuse University.
Over the years he worked his way up, holding roles at Interdata, Perkin-Elmer, and Concurrent Computer Corporation before starting Pegasus Real-Time software company. He later worked as a consultant before easing into a retirement that was anything but quiet.
When he met his first wife Patricia in 1970, he adopted her four children as his own. There were no "step" labels, no distinctions — just one big loving family where everyone was treated equally and wanted for nothing. He once told his son Matthew: "I fell in love with you kids first, and then your mother." The couple went on to have another child and the five children couldn't have asked for a more doting dad.
Everything Shef did, he did big — including smiling. His broad grin shone through in every photo. He sang and laughed and bought and shared with gusto and flair, from his colossal Lincoln Continental to the 11-bedroom "cottage" he purchased on Oquaga Lake.
Cars were a passion of his, and he loved to reminisce about those he'd owned over the years, from the silver 1969 Jaguar XKE and 1972 Buick Riviera to the 1984 Cadillac Eldorado he affectionately referred to as "Miss Ellie."
One year, for Patricia's 50th birthday, he flew the entire family first class to Maui for a blowout two-week bash complete with catamarans, snorkeling, and signature T-shirts. Nothing but the best for those he loved.
Shef relished food and enjoyed hosting the whole family for unforgettable feasts. Traditional Syrian cooking was his favorite, and his children remember tables piled high with mouthwatering batches of freshly made hummus, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh, plus kibbeh, grape leaves and lamb shish kebab.
During the summer there were mounds of burgers, steaks, clams and lobsters on the lake house grill; stacks of McDonald's Quarter Pounders and Filet-O-Fish sandwiches; and piles of pizza pies in every imaginable combination from Cortese's or Brozzetti's. Always enough food to feed an army.
Frequently, the family would visit Shef's parents (affectionately known as Jiddo and Tetti) in Weehawken for family get-togethers filled with food, rousing games of pinochle and captivating conversations in English and Arabic. Shef believed in respect, teaching his children to properly address adults and always say please, thank you, and "yes, Jiddo."
A lifelong fan of football, he shared his enthusiasm for the game with his children, and delighted in taking them to see his favorite team: the New York Giants (particularly during the Bill Parcells years). A formative moment for his son Matthew was when Shef took him to meet legendary Giants linebacker Harry Carson. Shef told Harry it was Matthew's first-ever game and then looked at his son and said, "Say hello to Mr. Carson!" Matthew was and still is in awe of that life-altering moment.
Shef often surprised people with his impish generosity. His family will never forget the year he brought home pets as presents — a Basset hound for Billy, a guinea pig for Paul, a Siamese cat for Alesia, a rabbit for Mom and a turtle for Matthew. No one saw the menagerie coming, but he had a soft spot for animals. The family pets were spoiled furchildren, particularly a favorite Airedale terrier he nicknamed "Duffy the Pip!"
Also proud, stubborn and determined, he lived life in his own way, once quipping: "Rules are sometimes meant to be broken if it's for the right reasons." When he walked into a room you could feel his presence — one of warmth, strength, and largesse — a presence that lives on.
Shef was preceded in death by his father Fuad Tabeek, his mother Lydia Tabeek, his brother Anthony Tabeek, and his sister Gloria Rusnak. He's survived by his wife LuAnn Capalbo Tabeek, sister Margaret Tabeek, son William Tabeek and his wife Patty Tabeek, son Paul Tabeek and his wife Vanuza Tabeek, daughter Alesia Hurban and her husband Steve Hurban, son Matthew Tabeek and his wife Heather Tabeek, son Nicholas Walsh and his wife Sara Walsh; 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; nieces Kristin Hopkins and Aleda Gerum, nephews James Tabeek and John Rusnak; and Jack, his German shepherd.
His family will remember his infectious laugh, his robust appetite for life — and his lifelong devotion to their wellbeing above all else.
Memorial services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family is encouraging donations be made to the Broome County Human Society (www.bchumanesoc.com
) since Shef loved animals so much.