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   Vol. 16 No. 56
Wednesday July 5, 2017

Stronger In Hard Times; Spark To Us All
Stronger In Hard Times Spark To Us All

     Beloved mother, grandmother, wife, and pioneering woman in computer programming, Saida Khan died at home in Kalamazoo early Saturday morning, July 1, 2017.
     She was 93 years old.
     Born in Bhavnagar, India, Saida met and married Muzaffer Khan, a well-respected criminal and corporate lawyer in 1949.
     The couple had three children: Ahsan, Sabiha, and Saleem.
     Always quite determined to succeed, while her children were growing up Saida worked for the ICI Foundation in Karachi, Pakistan, and in her spare time took courses to learn a new skill in auto mechanics and radio repair.
     “My mother migrated to the United States in 1975 following her children,” recalled her eldest son, Ahsan Khan.
     “She immediately learned how to drive and landed a job as administrative assistant at Lincoln National Life Insurance in Fort Wayne, Indiana, while learning data processing in night school.”
     During those early years in the U.S., Saida Khan worked around the clock, pulling herself up by the bootstraps to get ahead in America.
     “My mother had a long and quite interesting life,” Saleem Khan recalled.
     “She was invited to teach the Urdu language to Mahatma Gandhi, but being very young and shy she decided to pass on that offer.
     “Later as a computer programmer she worked on and was recognized for a program she created for the Pentagon."
     “The remarkable thing about Ammi (mother),” Ahsan Khan said, “was that she was well into middle age and had raised a family, and still had the drive and determination to start from scratch in her newly adopted country—the United States of America.”
     Into her mid-50s, Saida was surrounded by people half her age.
     “Ammi excelled in her career at Lincoln and made lots of friends,” her son Ahsan recalled.
     “She was quite independent, and enjoyed spending her time relaxing with a good book or the newspaper.
     “Ammi also had a very dry wit.”
     Her nephew Professor Zahir Quraeshi (Western Michigan University) recalls:
     “I used to always love to tease Saida Khala when she would smile that wonderfully impish grin, asking her, ‘what are you smiling about?’ I always knew it was something she was recalling with her special take on life.
     “Her observations on things like family and life are fondly remembered.”
     “Among all her many gifts, Ammi had also developed an artistic talent for creating hand-drawn holiday cards for Eid and Christmas, birthdays and special occasions. I treasure those personal artifacts,” recalled Saida’s daughter, Sabiha. “I was in awe of all she accomplished in life. She is a constant inspiration for me.
     “Ammi was a no-nonsense kind of person. She always challenged me to do more and better myself,” Sabiha said.
     “She also imbued in all her children a spirit of volunteerism and social justice. I can remember as teenagers volunteering at hospitals and orphanages.”
     “In later life, at Crossroads Senior Residence in Portage,” Ahsan said, “Ammi worked in the library and also at The Portage Senior Center training people, young and old, in the use of computers.”
     Both Lincoln National Life Insurance and computer giant IBM recognized Saida Khan’s work as a pioneering woman in IT.
     She received several commendations during her tenure from both companies.
     On Sunday July 2, 2017, Saida Khan ended her long and fruitful journey and was laid to rest in the Ever-Rest Cemetery in Kalamazoo. She joins her husband, Muzaffer, who died in March 2009.
     In attendance at her graveside were her three children, grandchildren, and their families, and a large cross-section of distinguished community leaders.
     Thinking about Saida and how she quietly left us very early this past Saturday, July 1, it brings to mind a wonderfully uplifting sentiment from Mahalia Jackson:
                    Well, in that great gettin' up mornin'
                    (Fare ye well, fare ye well)
                    Well, in that great gettin' up mornin'
                    (Fare ye well, fare ye well).

Geoffrey Arend

(Special thanks to Ahsan Khan, Sabiha & Flossie Arend, & Zahir Quraeshi )

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend •
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend • Advertising Sales-Judy Miller

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