February 14, 1931 – September 28, 2019
Emile Arraf of Calgary, AB, passed away on Saturday, September 28, 2019. He was 88 years old.
Emile was born in the Palestinian village of Mi’ilya on February 14, 1931 – one of five brothers born to a farming family in the Galilee. Two sisters died in infancy. Emile lived through the 1948 war which saw Palestinian lands confiscated and villages destroyed. He taught school before leaving on a scholarship to study education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and the University of Ottawa, where he obtained a Masters degree.
Emile married Rumzia Arraf, from Mi’ilya, in 1953. They later settled in Meadow Lake, SK where Emile taught school while they raised four children: Rebecca, Elia, Jane and John.
Emile later became a school principal, with most of his career spent at Jubilee School. He represented school division teachers on the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, served on the ambulance board and for almost twenty years served as chairman of Donor’s Choice. He was also active in the Catholic Church, becoming a Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus.
Emile was an avid writer of letters to the editor – writing well-crafted and grammatically flawless letters to the editor on his type-writer about the lack of a Palestinian homeland and other international issues and mailing them off to provincial and national newspapers.
Apart from his family and teaching, his real passion was fishing. He and Rumzia would fish in the dead of winter, drilling holes through the ice on Saskatchewan lakes. Summer evenings, the family would drive out to the rivers and lakes to bring back strings of perch and pickerel. Other days he and his buddies would head out before dawn to secure a good fishing spot.
He also loved to travel – taking the family every few years back to Palestine with stops in places like London and Egypt along the way. Other summers he and the family would hitch up a tent trailer to explore Canada and the U.S. Emile never met a stranger he didn’t consider a potential friend. At home the door was always open and the coffee always on.
In 2004, Emile and Rumzia moved to Calgary to be close to their grandchildren. But they remained loyal to the Saskatchewan community where they had made life-long friendships.
Emile was predeceased by his loving wife Rumzia, who died in Calgary in 2013. He is survived by his daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Miles of Calgary, his daughter Jane, who is based in the Middle East, his son Elia and daughter-in-law Dorothy of Killarney, Manitoba and his son John and daughter-in-law Kelly of Calgary. He is survived by four adored grandchildren; John and Kelly’s children: Hailey, Cassandra, Liam and Madeleine. He is also survived by his younger brother Elias as well as dozens of nieces, nephews and cousins whom he cherished.
Memorial Mass was held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church (1307 14 St. SW, Calgary, AB) on Friday, October 4, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. Condolences may be forwarded through www.McInnisandHolloway.com.