Samira Al-Hadad of San Luis Obispo, California, succumbed to COVID-19 on the morning of
January 23, 2021. Her storied life ended, and she joined her father (Spiridon), mother (Salima),
and three sisters (Jeanette, Sarah, and Mary) at what is surely a lively table full of hugs and
Samira spent her later years under the outstanding care of her physician Dr. Hilty and the
dedicated staff at the Post Acute Transitional Care Center, with daily visits and ministrations by
her children, large extended family, and dear friends. It was a team and community that
ensured a rewarding existence. Her husband Sabah regaled Samira with fanciful stories on his
daily visits, often ending with a cliff-hanger so she would anticipate the next chapter. Samira's
own life was full of stories that could arguably eclipse any that Sabah could spin.
She was born in Haifa, Palestine, in 1937. When Samira was a youngster, it became clear that
her family's future- and that of Palestine- was unsafe and uncertain, so her family left
permanently to their land in Lebanon. Her primary education was in a Lebanese Catholic
boarding school with her younger sister Mary, after which she was sponsored to immigrate to
the United States. Samira proudly earned her United States citizenship and worked as a nurse
in Texas, where she met her husband Sabah. They moved to San Luis Obispo in 1963 when
Sabah became a professor at Cal Poly SLO. She continued her work as a nurse well into
Samira was renown within the family for her open arms, open home, and open heart, always
there to lend an ear, a cup of coffee, and a room. A regular fixture at the Saturday Farmers'
Market, Samira arrived early to purchase flowers each week. She delighted in creating fresh
sprays for her home and designing and delivering arrangements to family and friends. Samira
was a font of floral knowledge. She knew how to grow houseplants from cuttings, avocado
trees from seeds, and how to care for African Violets properly. She exemplified stopping to
smell the roses, and everyone took pleasure, as she did, in the intoxicating scent of the
varieties she grew, which certainly reminded her of her childhood in Lebanon.
Samira was an amazing chef with a willingness to share and teach regional family recipes, and
a woman with a productive green thumb who could nimbly climb trees at harvest time. She
nurtured all manner of fruits and vegetables, and her huge garden thrived. She delighted in the
"surprise" crops that grew, often results of what she composted. As she did with her heart and
home, she shared the garden bounty with her family and neighbors.
She is also remembered as having a soft spot for her darling puppies, each of whom had a
distinct personality that Samira was willing to indulge as only a true dog-lover could. From
"puppy-soccer" to "bury-the-sock," Samira, her family, and all visitors to their home couldn't
help but smile when playing with Bosa, Jolie, Gigi, and Lady.
Samira was a mother who reveled in her children's talents and aspirations and encouraged
them to find within themselves strong footing, independent thought, and meaningful pursuits.
She was known by her siblings as the fiercely protective sister, a role she took seriously and
fulfilled masterfully. Her role was so cherished that it was sought after by her siblings' offspring,
who contacted their wise Auntie for everything from mundane topics to serious advice about
assimilating into American culture and the eligibility of marriage partners. Her wisdom was
dispensed openly and with blunt honesty, usually beginning with a knowing tilt of the head and
a, "You know, honey," - words that each of us wish we could hear one more time.
Samira is survived by her husband of 61 years, Sabah; her devoted daughter Jenann (married
to Bill McLennan); her beloved son Sig; and two sources of joy and pride- her granddaughters
Catie and Maddie. She also leaves behind three adored brothers and their loving wives: John
Atiya (Diane), Tony Atieh (Claire), and Melad Atiya (Zeina). They will be counted on by Samira's
21 nieces and nephews, their spouses, and their children to assume the protective and advice
role vacated by Samira.
In keeping with current health guidelines, Samira will have a private memorial service and will
be buried at the Old Mission cemetery in San Luis Obispo, California.
Published by New Times San Luis Opisbo from Mar. 25 to Mar. 31, 2021.