Fuad Akil Rihani
September 30, 1937 – June 26, 2020
Dr. Fuad Akil Rihani, 82, of Cary, NC, passed away peacefully Friday, June 26, 2020, surrounded by his beloved wife and children after a lengthy battle with cancer, fought with his characteristic faith, grace, and humor.
Born in Al-Husn, Jordan in 1937, Fuad was the sixth of eight children from Akil Odeh Rihani and Tamam Bdeweih Selameh Ayoub. He is preceded in death by his parents, sisters Maha and Juliet, and brothers Fouzi and Kamal. His other three siblings Jane, Awatif, and Jamal reside in Jordan, along with the rest of a large extended Rihani family.
In 1954, Fuad received a full US AID scholarship to study civil engineering at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, where he won the prestigious Penrose Award for scholarship, character, and leadership. It was also at AUB where he was introduced to classical music by a professor, beginning a lifelong love of and support for music within his family and community.
He returned to Jordan in 1959 with his bachelor’s degree and worked for four years there on highway projects before heading to Raleigh, North Carolina, to pursue his Masters degree in transportation engineering at North Carolina State University, under a Fulbright scholarship. In 1964, he returned to the Middle East, working on road and airport projects in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. By 1968, Fuad was once again at NC State for his doctorate in transportation engineering, which he earned in 1974. Fuad’s professional life after his PhD included time with the NC Department of Transportation as Chief of Statewide Transportation Systems Planning, and with NC State University as an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering.
In 1978, he began a 40-year career in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi Binladin Group, specializing in project research and development, a role that took him all over the world and allowed his professional and personal gifts to truly shine. He represented the company on several boards and association memberships in Washington, DC, and elsewhere. In audiences with kings, presidents, and every manner of dignitary, Fuad himself was a natural ambassador for his homeland Jordan, his profession and employer, and the country of which he was endlessly proud to call himself a citizen, the United States.
Of all his academic and professional successes, March of 1969 marked Fuad’s greatest life accomplishment, when he met and fell in love with Katherine Elizabeth Ketner of Hickory, North Carolina. Their story began as the result of a “computer dating” program run by the North Carolina university system, a story that friends and family never tire of hearing. They married a few short months later, on August 23, 1969. Last year they celebrated their 50th anniversary by taking a 40-day cruise around the British Isles, Iceland, Greenland and eastern Canada. Even though periods of their married life were spent apart while Fuad commuted between Hickory, NC, and Saudi Arabia for work, Fuad and Kathy created a life and love story all their own.
Everyone who knows Fuad knows that his family was his greatest joy. His and Kathy’s marriage produced three children, Elizabeth (married to Rami, living in Washington, DC), Kristin (married to Tom, living in Apex, NC), and John (married to Angie, living in Fishers, IN), and in turn six grandchildren: Hana and Alia (Elizabeth and Rami), Rachel and Thomas (Kristin and Tom), and Jenna and Grace (John and Angie). Fuad took immense pride in being called Granddaddy or “Koo Koo,” a nickname given to him by his grandchildren themselves and one that he reveled in. He was truly crazy in love with his grandchildren and never hesitated to be his most charmingly ridiculous self if it meant that he could see them laughing. He and Kathy (Kee Kee to Fuad’s Koo Koo) drove countless miles to attend piano and voice recitals, elementary school graduations, Holy Confirmation services, and as many birthday celebrations as they were able. Grandchildren’s trips to their home in Cary or their beach home in South Carolina meant endless cuddles, lots of off-key singing, and Koo Koo’s famous stories, with which he could captivate even the wiggliest grandchild. Fuad’s love of family and community extended far and wide. His support of his late mother and sister Jane began as soon as he began earning a paycheck after his undergraduate degree. His nieces, nephews, and other family members around the world all have stories of Fuad taking them out to dinner or shopping when he visited where they lived for work. He gathered his children’s friends in as his own and spoiled them accordingly. His travels allowed him to visit his family in Jordan regularly and be present for engagement parties, weddings, family celebrations, or an invitation to eat a mansaf, his favorite meal of lamb, rice and yogurt. Fuad was especially proud recently of helping to plan, fundraise for, and support construction of a Rihani Association building in Amman where large events and other gatherings can be held. He was also proud to be involved with several Jordanian-American associations in the United States. Above all, Fuad will be remembered for his legendary generosity, effortless warmth and intelligence, his profound love of the Lord, and an unmistakable laugh that filled any room he was in. He will also be remembered for his love of music, his ability to recount family history, remember everyone he had ever met (including their children’s and parents’ names), napkin note jotting, his daily schedule and lists copied meticulously into his journals, the many faxes he continued sending in defiance of the digital age, the toothpicks he kept stashed in pockets, the house and car, and sneezes that could be measured only on the Richter scale. When asked how he was doing, he would inevitably answer, “On top of the world!” That is the Fuad we will all remember, someone who made you feel like you were on top of the world, too, whenever you were with him.
Due to COVID-19 circumstances, a memorial service will be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages well-wishers to donate to Resurrection Lutheran Church, 100 W. Lochmere Drive, Cary, NC 27518; or Grace Lutheran Church, 4536 Hickory Lincolnton Hwy, Newton, NC 28658.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Fuad Akil Rihani
July 1, 2020
I’m saddened to hear of Fuad’s passing. He was an incredible person! I haven’t seen him since they moved to Cary but I have very fond memories of him and Kathy. He was a very interesting man to speak with and his and Kathy’s love story was so sweet! I always looked forward to his travel stories and updates of his children !
Kathy and family please know your in my thoughts & prayers during this time!
Dr Troutman’s Hickory NC
June 30, 2020
Rest in Peace Dr. Fuad
My deepest condolences on the loss of our beloved Dr. Fuad
He resembled the epitome of generosity and care , He helped me in my life by his acts and words.
We are deeply saddened by his loss
May god rest his soul in peace and bless his Family
Deeb Yacoub Rihani and Family
Omar Atif RIHANI
June 29, 2020
RIP uncle Fuad🙏
When you meet someone special in your life, you will remember all the details everytime you see him and talk to him .. Dr. Fuad was a unique character, passionate, caring, knowledgeable and humble. Everytime I met him I used to feel the pride and get touched by his words and wisdom which turn out to be true guidelines towards success and self satisfaction.
He is a big loss to the family and will be remembered always.
Omar A. RIHANI and family
June 28, 2020
Uncle Fuad was a very loving person. I had the pleasure of being his nephew. 56 years ago, I remember when we were in Amman, uncle Fuad walked towards me with a brand new bike that he had bought for me. I was ecstatic since it was my first bike! This is one of my fondest childhood memories. My mother (his sister) was very close to him and always talked about her very kind and successful brother. I'll always remember his contagious laugh and his positive demeanor. He will be truly missed.
June 28, 2020
I am truly sad to hear of Dr. Fuad's passing. Although we have been out of touch for a long time, I still have fond memories of him and the family since he encouraged me to attend NC State in the 1980's and facilitated my attendance. At that time, it was a privilege to get to know his wonderful family and to enjoy the hospitality that is sorely needed when one is young and away from his own family. The meaning of such hospitality was especially true in the holidays, when I often visited Hickory at his kind invitation.
Sincere and warm condolences to Kathy, Elizabeth, Christen and John.
Lynn B. Spees
June 28, 2020
As the pediatrician for the Rihani children many years ago, I was glad to have had a connection with this marvelous family. My condolences for the loss of this great man.
June 28, 2020
I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.
May your soul Rest In Peace amo Fouad, you gonna be truly missed
You will always be in our hearts ♥️
Ahed el Rihani and family
June 28, 2020
I had met Dr. Fuad a few times through AlRihani family gatherings in Jordan but it was till I met him in Jeddha in Saudi Arabia the things I learned from him, how to look for the important issues and don't give the irrelevant ditalies much effort in work and life.
Keep loving and caring for family and friends should be always a priority.
never lose faith in our Lord.
All may be things that we thought we knew but the experiences he shared with me give new perspectives to these things that make me like I had no idea before about their importance
Now I know that I am better person becouse of him
I, my family will always remember you
Faris Eid Rihani and Family
June 28, 2020
I read Fuad obituary in the morning newspaper in Amman today. I only met Fuad once nearly 6o years ago. I was at my friend and high school classmate home Jamal when he told me that he wanted to introduce me to his elder brother Fuad. moments later Fuad walks in the room. smiling ,handsome, and good looking person. The meeting lasted for a mere 5 minutes. Fuad knew from Jamal about my interest in going to an engineering school and he took time to say few things to me about engineering.
The meeting ended and I kept thinking to myself " wouldn't be nice to become an engineer as smart and as good looking as Fuad.
although I didn't meet Fuad after that occasion. something kept me keen in following his whereabouts. when I read his obituary today, I felt sad and the vivid memory of that five minutes meeting with him came to my mind. so vivid and clear. and I thought to myself" if someone can have such an impact on a person after meeting him for a mere five minutes. an impact that stayed with me for sixty years " then that person must be a truly special person.
after that meeting, I went on to study engineering. never became as smart and good looking as Fuad but managed to become a good engineer. I am now the chairman of the board of an engineering company.
Rest in Peace Fuad
Abdalaziz Bakr binladin
June 28, 2020
as we call him "uncle" fuad has been part of our family for many years known to be a man of dignity ethics and principle, he brought tremendous value to the group and was a trusted man to my dad and respected by all.
As a young man i remember seeing dr. Fuad on various encounters with my father. And i remember clearly that when he showed up my dad had all the time in the world for him and gave him all the attention and respect. May he rest in peace and may god grant his beloved the strength and faith to go through a loss of a great man..
My prayer and condolences to all his family..
June 27, 2020
June 27, 2020
We share in this time of grief,
But also share in the love and memories of Dr.Fuad
Words cannot express our sadness.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this
Dr. Kameel Reehani & Family
June 27, 2020
I am so grateful to my cousin Kathy to have known her
Wonderful husband Fuad. I will always be so thankful
For all those family pictures he was always there to
Take. I know heavens door had a long line of loved
Ones there to welcome him!
Your in my prays Fuad.