Longtime Lebanese American activist Jackie Haddad passes
Jackie Haddad worked behind-the-scenes on behalf of the influential Lebanese and Arab American communities to raise funds for the needy, helped to lead and organize the annual conferences of the Midwest Federation of American Syrian & Lebanese Clubs, and was active in her local community in Elmhurst where she and her husband Emil raised their family.
By Ray Hanania
Longtime Lebanese Arab American activist Jacquelyn L. “Jackie” Haddad (nee Rashid) of Elmhurst died on Wednesday Oct. 17, 2018. She was 76 years old.
Haddad was active both in local community service organizations and in the Lebanese and Arab American communities. She served as a past president of the Elmhurst Women’s Club and was a founder and past president of the Elmhurst Children’s Assistance Foundation (ECAF). Haddad was also a member of the Elmhurst Senior Commission, past president of the York Township Republican Women’s Organization, and a member First Ladies of Elmhurst. Haddad was also the recipient of Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award.
Haddad was also active with the Midwest Federation of American Syrian & Lebanese Clubs, America’s largest association addressing the social needs of the vast Syrian and Lebanese communities in the United States. The Federation was founded in 1936 and its membership includes more than 2,000 families in 10 American. For many years, the Federation was the most influential and active group in the Chicagoland area.
Haddad was an active member of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church, 950 North Grace, in Lombard.
On Sept. 5, 2001, while serving as the chairman of the Midwest Federation of American Syrian & Lebanese Clubs, Haddad signed a contract with the Marriott hotel in downtown Des Moines, Iowa to host the group’s annual convention which often attracts several thousand attendees from across the country. Less than a week later, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, hotel officials called Jackie to announce they had canceled the convention.
The Federation filed a lawsuit against the Marriott that was supported by the U.S. Justice Department and Marriot apologized, paying the group $115,000 and earmarking $100,000 for a scholarship fund and $15,000 for the convention.
Haddad was a frequent voice in local affairs in her community, and in 2015, didn’t hesitate to tell the local Elmhurst City Council how she and others in groups she worked with felt about bringing video gambling to the community, including in this Oct. 14, 2015, Chicago Tribune story:
Jackie Haddad, who has been involved with a number of Elmhurst organizations and who is a member of the city’s Senior Citizen Commission, also spoke against lifting the ban. “This is not something positive,” Haddad told committee members. “If we want to have these machines, then have a referendum so the people of Elmhurst can vote.”
The Midwest Federation of American Syrian & Lebanese Clubs issued the following statement on their Facebook Page:
It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of Jackie Haddad’s passing. As a past president and active member, she is an immense loss for our Federation, the community, and to all who have had the pleasure of knowing her. On behalf of the entire MFASLC we extend our deepest sympathies to the Haddad family who remain in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. May she rest in peace and her memory be eternal.
Jackie Haddad was the beloved wife of Emil; loving mother of Michael (Michele) and Douglas (Kira) Haddad and Jacquelyn Haddad-Tamer; proud grandmother of Elise, Matthew and Andrew, Georgette and Joseph Haddad and Elias and Gabriella Tamer; dear sister of William (Kathleen) Rashid; fond aunt, cousin and friend of many.
Jack’s daughter Jackie Haddad-Tamer said, “My mom loved the Arab community, no matter what religion. She had friends from all backgrounds and nationalities. Mom was so proud to be of Lebanese heritage and specifically volunteered many hours through the years for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which, as you know, was founded by Danny Thomas who was also Lebanese. She always reminded my brothers and I to remember where we came from and where are roots are from. And, she said, always be proud of our heritage.”
Visitation was on Sunday, October 21, at Gibbons Funeral Home in Elmhurst. Services were held Monday, October 22 at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Lombard. Interment was at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery, Hillside.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 S. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.