Ibrahim “Abe” Michael January 14, 1941 to August 1, 2013
Former M & M Market owner, Ibrahim “Abe” Michael, passed away peacefully at his home August 1. He was 72. Born to Nicola and Azizeh Michael in Ramallah, Palestine, Michael immigrated to the United States of America in 1967, the year the Six-Day War broke out in Israel. A year later he married his beloved wife, Laila Salim Freij, in Detroit, Michigan, and purchased the M & M Market at 23rd and DeHaro streets to start a better life away from war in his native land.
Before immigrating to the U.S., Michael taught physics in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine, after earning a degree in agriculture at Khadouri College in Tul Karam, Palestine. He attended primary and secondary schools in Ramallah.
Michael retired from M & M Market in 2007. He struggled with health issues during the last years of his life, according to his daughter, Betty Kelleher. “Yet he never let any of his ailments get him down,” Kelleher wrote in an obituary to the Palestinian community. “He was a fighter; never giving up hope that one day he would get better. Throughout his struggles he always maintained a smile on his face.” Kelleher said her father was at the point of death nine times, and she and her siblings used to joke with him that he had nine lives. “He was a survivor and a go-getter,” she said.
For 40 years Michael owned and operated the M & M Market with his wife. Kelleher said her father worked seven days a week, in difficult and dangerous conditions. He was held up a number of times. But despite the struggles, “my dad loved his customers,” Kelleher said. The store had many visitors. “He was extremely generous, outgoing, friendly and funny,” Kelleher wrote to her cultural community. “Everyone who knew him loved and respected him.”
Michael and his wife owned a house on Rhode Island Street, where they raised their three children. But Kelleher said she and her brother, Nick, and sister, Amal, spent more time at the store than at their home. Michael’s wife passed in 1995, forging a tight bond among the surviving family members, Kelleher wrote in the obituary.
Michael also created community bonds. One was with Jack Jacqua, co-founder of the Omega Boys Club. “He was a real community person,” Jacqua said. “He was there to help people.” According to Jacqua, Michael made more than two thousand sandwiches for neighborhood kids during the time he owned the store. Michael also fed others in need, such as the homeless and people in poor health. “He was such a benevolent soul,” Jacqua added.
In addition to work, he loved going to St. George’s Orthodox Church in San Francisco. “His love and faith in God was pure,” Kelleher wrote. “He was an active member of the church and Ramallah community. He attended all functions, shared his wisdom, and loved people unconditionally. His love and respect for others was unparalleled. His heart and home were always open, and he enjoyed spending time with all his family and friends.”
“He was a wonderful guy,” Kelleher said. “He was one of a kind, and will live in our hearts forever. May he rest in peace.”
Michael is survived by eight brothers and sisters: Basma, Iffat, Janet, Widad Husary, Hanna, Simon, Jad and Fuad; his three children; one grandchild, Laila; and nieces and nephews. Donations in his memory can be made to the St. George Orthodox Church.
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