Tumbleweed Smith's Column this week
I made a speech to a tourist group in Abilene a few years ago and when it was over a little man from Stamford rushed up to me and asked me what I would charge to keynote his next Chamber of Commerce banquet. When I told him, he gave me the date of the banquet and told me I was hired to be the speaker. I thought at the time that this must be a man who can get things done. I had no idea.
His name is Fareed Hassen. When he was ten years old he went to work in his father’s store in Stamford. “We had a department store,” he says. “I was the cashier and learned how to do the books. On Saturdays my sister would go to the movies to see a double feature western, but I didn’t care for movies, so I worked in the store.”
His family also had a ladies ready to wear store in Oklahoma, where he attended college. “I got a degree in architecture in 1955 from the University of Oklahoma. The famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright lectured to us a few times. He was a friend of the head of the department. Mr. Wright told us to be individuals and to be able to think for ourselves.”
Fareed spent fifty years in his family’s store in Stamford, but found time to use some of his architectural training and ability. “I had an opportunity to design a few homes for friends here in Stamford and in Dallas. I designed a restaurant and a few other things around town.” I visited his home, which he designed. It is not your typical house. It is a showcase in Stamford with unique design elements.
Fareed has always been active in civic affairs and has won the respect and admiration of his fellow citizens. I asked him to mention a few and he was reluctant to start his list, saying he doesn’t like to brag on himself. But he did tell me a few things he has done. “I was on the city council for six years, was on the school board for fifteen years, I have been in Rotary over fifty five years with perfect attendance and have arranged the weekly programs for several years.” He has been on the board of just about every worthwhile endeavor in and around Stamford. He served as Stamford’s Chamber of Commerce executive for a few years and now heads up the city’s economic development office.
He is proud of the accomplishments of graduates of Stamford High School. “We had some significant people who came from Stamford including Robert Strauss, who was one of the most influential men in Washington for years. In 2005 I put together a computerized list of all the graduates along with their accomplishments.”
Fareed is 84. For 28 of those years he has walked two miles a day every day. “I have walked everywhere. I walked in the airport in Paris, France a couple of times. I walked in Lebanon, in the Caribbean, California, Florida, Mexico and I’ve never missed a day. Sometimes it’s one in the morning before I get out to do my walk but I faithfully walk. Around here I walk around the square late at night when it’s quiet. I have a prayer list and always pray while I walk.”
Tumbleweed Smith loves to listen to Texans tell their stories. Contact him at email@example.com