Bob Husse Pat Soraruf Faz Husain

Faz Husain recalled for his many kind acts and concern for others
Saturday, March 11, 2006
News Staff Reporter
Ann Arbor News

Jon Strite planned to visit Faz Husain at the University of Michigan Hospital Friday afternoon with a big surprise. After reading that Husain was dying of a lung disease, Strite asked Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje to write a proclamation honoring Husain for many things, including enriching "the lives of every person he encounters.''

Bill Freehan Detroit Tigers and Faz with his wife Nikki

Husain, the gregarious pizza store owner who enjoyed the spotlight and collected pictures of himself with celebrities, would have loved it. But instead of taking the proclamation to Husain's hospital bed Friday, Strite took it to his funeral.

Husain, widely known in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area, died Thursday evening at the University of Michigan Hospital, his immediate family at his side and his large extended family in the hall. He was 54.

"He was the type of guy nobody could ever dislike,'' said his cousin, Afraz Ahmed of Ypsilanti, whose deep voice and Indian accent are nearly identical to Husain's. "He was always optimistic and loving. We will miss him immensely.''

Husain moved from India to Ypsilanti 40 years ago when his father was recruited for a job at Eastern Michigan University. Kevin Kerr remembers his fellow Ypsilanti High School student as the same outgoing, loving guy as he was until the end. "There wasn't anybody who wasn't his friend,'' Kerr said.

Over the years, Husain got a big kick out of meeting and being photographed with celebrities, from Muhammad Ali to Bill Clinton to Queen Elizabeth. He was working on a book about how to meet famous people.

Husain was a member of the Ypsilanti City Council in the early 1980s, and ran unsuccessfully for mayor. He owned several pizzerias over the years, the latest of which is Hello Faz Pizza on West Liberty Street in Ann Arbor. Local sports teams received countless pizzas from Husain at cost that they sold at fund raising concessions.

Many in the Ann Arbor Public Schools were upset Friday morning to hear that Husain had passed away, said Mary Anne Jaeger, principal of Dicken Elementary School. She called Husain a community icon and said people will miss the "Faz love'' he dished out.

Strite, a physical education teacher and coach at Slauson Middle School, recalled how eagerly Husain helped the schools any way he could. He said he had been in the process of getting Husain a proclamation as honorary mayor of Ypsilanti.

When Manish Mehta of Ann Arbor read of Husain's terminal illness in The Ann Arbor News last month, he arranged an ecumenical prayer/meditation service. Husain, a Muslim, often talked of God and spiritual matters, and was a big believer in unity among people of all faiths.

Mehta met Husain years ago at a U-M football game when he gave his sons a free pizza. "Since then, I have followed the achievements of this very special do-gooder,'' he said. "As an Indian-American, I have also supported Faz on a couple of his altruistic acts, which have ranged from collecting clothing donations for his mid-1990s visit to Mother Teresa's ashram in India, to helping disaster victims locally. He exemplified the diversity and caring nature of Ann Arborites with his flamboyant acts intended to serve humanity.''

Husain read the obituaries every day in The Ann Arbor News, and attended hundreds of funerals over the years to show the grieving family his support.

Ahmed said his cousin's funeral Friday at the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor was standing-room-only, with people waiting outside. About 500 people attended the burial at Highland Cemetery in Ypsilanti. The family plans to hold a memorial service next week, and will announce details when they are finalized. * It was held at Pioneer High School and it was packed*

In an interview with The News at his house last month, Husain said that he had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable, untreatable scarring of the lung.

Husain said he would have liked to grow older, and especially regretted leaving behind his 11-year-old son, Ismail, a sixth-grader at Slauson Middle School, and his wife, Nikki, whom he wed in an arranged marriage in India in 1977.

Other survivors include his son, Ali, 22, a University of Michigan senior, and his daughter, Nadia, 26. Husain had spent years trying to find a man he believed was good enough for his daughter. She married Naumaan Mallhi last month in a wedding moved up so that her father could attend. He wasn't well, but he was there.

In the recent interview, Husain said he was satisfied knowing he did as much as he could for as long as he could. "I'm just a pizza guy,'' he said. "But I hope I'll leave a loving mark.''

I would say Faz completed his goal beautifully RIP my dear friend and for the many free pizzas for my daughter's parties too. xxoo Faz RIP

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What a great guy. I will always try to model my life after him. Nobody I know could ever equal his passion of peace and love and kindness. I will always cherish the memories of Faz.

Gerard Patrick Soraruf


Janet S said...

"Cool picture Kim...I know Bob Husse too..he hung out with Chris and Jim all the time on Fairview..if you ever see him tell him I said hi"

Mary Macek said...

"Kim, thanks for posting this...I never really knew anything about him except we hung around his store a lot at lunchtime. His albums are a real historical treasure!"

Mary Dec said...

"So sad...."

Ted Copeland said...

"RIP Faz, you are missed."

Tom Wall said...

"What a sweet, sweet man. I knew him when I was going to EMU, and my kids met him when they were in Middle School. It was a big deal for them when he passed on..."

Bill Gardiner said...

Wow I remember when Faz brought Muhammed Ali into the "Woodruff's Grove" at Happy Hour. Faz knew Everybody!!!

T-Bone Mathley said...

"Wow-2006? I lived in Ypsi till 2007, but somehow missed this. I met him a few times at EMU games. What a fun guy. Sad to hear this."

Robert Fox said...

"Pictures of the old pizza shop sure are a blast from the past. I spent a lot of time there. Remember the big parties he had on Friday nights? That was before he married Niki."

Cindy Gable said...

Faz was the kindest person I've ever known. He used to send my Mom a birthday card and call her on her b'day every yr for yrs.

Chris Riley said...

I miss him dearly. He was a good man and a good friend.

Retro Kimmer said...

He used to bring me and my daughter free food a lot too when we were first struggling financially years ago...then Faz was the pizza guy at her school and she KNEW him it was very cool for her with her friends. We often went over to his home and the kids just loved Faz and at 14 they didn't love many adults!!!

Mark Kevin Boone said...

I have a number of mutual "faz" friends and we often talk of Faz and his upbeat outlook. He was a treasure and his spirit soars above us.

Friend of FAZ said...

I met him shortly after he came to the U.S. We became FRIENDS immediately. Later I worked with him at the PIZZA SHOP while attending E.M.U. and I attended his wedding to Nicki. I love them.
No better person than FAZ.

Friend of FAZ said...

FAZ was the BEST !

Truly MISSED by all who knew him !!!

Faouzi said...

Faz was the best and kindest Boss I ever work with. I worked at his Pizza store in 1999. I was not good in English and I had no idea about how to make Pizza but Faz teach me and gave me the opportunity to learn and practice in few days I became a Pizza man. The Funny thing that my Name is very close to his Name "Fawzi". I prayed for him and his family and God Bless him

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