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by Stella Shamoon

Niazi Shamoon

Niazi (Abraham) Hayim Shamoon, beloved husband of Teffeh (née Iny), father of Olivia, Stella and Hilda, and grandfather of Guy Greenberg, Dahlia and Benjamin Dana and Samuel Setton (Smouha) passed away on 2 September at the age of 86 years.

Rabbi Levy and Rabbi Gubbay led the prayers at the burial.

The immediate family was joined by relatives from Paris and from Geneva, along with life-long friends from our community based in London.

Rabbi Levy said Niazi was a patriarch and dynamic man who although not strictly speaking religious, had a deep sense of tradition and family values. He gave fulsome praise to Teffeh for her unswerving devotion and love.

Niazi used to tell how he met his wife Teffeh. "I met Teffeh at a wedding party. The minute I arrived, two beautiful eyes fixed on me, they stunned me, I couldn't believe them, I looked at her and she smiled". It was love at first sight for both of them. They married in 1942. In 1948 the family moved to London.

This is what Niazi's daughter Stella writes about her father:

My father was of a generation of great, tough and courageous men who lived a turbulent but rich life that straddled East and West, Old and New. His death marks the passing of an era.

Family and friends were indeed his most precious values.

Although a talented and imaginative businessman, it was not the desire for success that drove daddy. It was an inborn boundless energy and a hunger for challenge. He met each challenge and often conquered.

Niazi was born in Baghdad in 1914 to a family of seven children. He was four when he lost his father.

His grieving mother turned to her father, a man of high moral rectitude and sense of duty whom Niazi greatly admired and respected, and who from that day was to become provider, protector and head of the young bereaved family during the rest of his days.

Niazi's great grandfather Shamoon was a brother of the famous David Sassoon the First. But when the Sassoons offered to assume responsibility of the young widow and her children, his maternal grandfather was too proud and said he did not want any outside help.

My father had a remarkable memory and was a wonderful storyteller.

He was a proud man, tall and dignified but utterly unpretentious, possessed of infectious friendliness and a powerful urge to communicate with others. He approached everyone with respect and an open mind.

Whether to charm, to persuade or to argue his corner, my father was an eloquent advocate who delighted in words, had a keen sense of humour and quick wit. He was as awesome in argument as he was persuasive in praise.

With his partner, the late Ghali Shamash, my father built up a chain of London-based hotels and serviced apartments, The Embassy Group, which was sold in 1976.

He was an old man but to the end retained a young person's hunger for life and a keen sense of fun.

My father was unusually open-minded and tolerant towards people whose cultures and principles were different to his own. He was born in the sometimes sympathetic and tolerant and sometimes persecuting regimes of Islam.

We were all deeply touched by the fact that so many of his friends came to pay their respects to my father and each told us "He was my best friend".



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