Melo, otherwise known as Ms. Smile, was a woman like no other. She was a constant nurturer with Boundless Love, Unselfish Giving, Graciousness & Elegance, and Consummate Professional. She was a wife of 62 years, sister for 84 years, mother of 57 years, and Taitu-grandmother of 26 years. She leaves a true legacy, improving the lives of everyone she crossed paths with, and thus a mark on this world that will live on in many. Although she is now part of history, her presence is everlasting through her work, passions, and love.
Her Love was Boundless: She married the love of her life – very few are lucky enough to find such a perfect match. She married her college sweetheart (Michael Ali Fekrat PhD), whom she called Mr. Yellow, in Beirut, Lebanon. They met as students at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and have since never left each other’s side. She always knew the right direction forward and wasn’t afraid to make bold decisions, as they came to the USA in the early 1960’s to start a family and a new life together. They travelled the world, invested in property, laughed, experienced all the goodness life has to offer, including trips to their favorite Ocean City, Maryland, always together. Her beautiful voice filled our home with song. A live well lived. She loved unconditionally and always with a warm, smile. “Grow old with me, the best is yet to come.”
An Unselfish Giving Mother: Mom was the soul and compass of the family - the core nucleus. She set the value basis for her family - with a smile. She would fill the house with song and warmth and encourage her kids to be their best in anything and everything they did. She would say “Let them have life and more abundantly.” She wanted her children to be independent and strong and prepared them to navigate curveballs sent their way. Her love and guidance set the direction of their upbringing and their lives. Her son (Norman) is CEO of Imagine Wireless and lives in the townhouse that Taitu brokered – she guided the purchase and predicted its good long-term investment. In her honor, he has fundraised as a board member of the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Her daughter (Sharon) is an accomplished vitreoretinal microsurgeon at Duke whose iMIND research team has developed a machine learning algorithm that uses retinal scans to differentiate Alzheimer’s from normal cognition, too, in her honor. Even in her demise, she continued to inspire her children.
A Gracious & Elegant Grandmother: Taitu enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, instilling values, teaching, reading, caring, loving, ever-present, smiling, and attending every grandparents’ day, ice hockey game, piano performance, tap dance show, karate tournament, and the list goes on. She would say “Good Better Best, Never Let it Rest, Until Your Good is Better, and Your Better Best.” She was and will continue to be omnipresent in their lives as they work hard in medical school. Taitu would always make meals and treats with a cheerful note: “Enjoy!!!” She was the force behind the planting of cherry blossom trees in a Georgetown community that continue to shed their beauty every spring. She would charm everyone whom she met and could find a new best friend anywhere… everyone who met her absolutely adored her. People were drawn to her. Some of her last words were “Be Happy,” “Take Care of Yourself,” and “I Love You.”
Consummate Professional: After being President of the Commerce Club at the Beirut College for Women and receiving a Bachelors in Business Administration from AUB in 1960, she had worked at NYC’s Rockefeller Center, was Chief Visa Officer at the Kuwait Embassy in Washington DC, and was a successful, respected, sought-after professional real estate agent and broker… she sold the largest mansions in Potomac, Maryland with ease. Because of her organizational skills and astute acumen, she ran the family economics. Her influence will continue to outlive her…. Her decisions on homes purchased, careers taken, paths chosen, have set the stage for her children’s success.
Melo leaves a lasting legacy, along with a loving devoted husband, 2 children, a son-in-law and daughter-in-law, 3 grandchildren, 3 sisters, 2 late brothers, and many more. We will always love her, miss her, and remember her with the endless love she has shown us all. We hope she sings forever in the heavens above. In lieu of flowers, tax-deductible donations may be made in memory of Amal Sadaka Fekrat to iMIND Research at DukeHealth to create an annual research award in her name. https://www.gifts.duke.edu/mem/Fekrat