By Will McClure
If one were to visit the Stamford square during a weekday morning, they would be greeted with a smile and a wave from a familiar face to Stamford residents for the last 60 years who has gone above and beyond in his commitment to the Stamford community. This gentleman is none other than Fareed Hassen during his daily two-mile walk and prayer time, something that he has done every day, missing only three days, since having heart surgery 31 years ago, crediting his daily ritual as keeping him humble and moving each day. Not content with having only one job, Hassen has been a part of many Stamford committees and has filled many different roles over the last 60 years, really becoming a man of many hats.
Hassen was born in Stamford in 1930 and was raised here until his junior year of high school when he moved to Seminole, Oklahoma, graduating from Seminole High School and later graduating from Oklahoma University with a degree in Architecture in 1955. Shortly after graduation, Hassen moved back to Stamford in 1956 to take over his family's business shortly after the passing of his father. It would not be long before Hassen would start becoming involved in many other projects in the Stamford community, becoming a member of the Stamford Rotary Club and the Stamford Service Unit of the Salvation Army.
"I first got involved with the Salvation Army after Bob Estes, a former scout leader of mine, secured a position with the Army and asked me to help with the local unit," Hassen said. Although he admitted that he did not know much about the organization at first, he has grown to become an integral part of the Salvation Army, including raising an average of $7,000 a year for the last 12 years through the Red Kettle campaign during the holiday season.
In 1968 during a trip to Lebanon, Hassen met and married his wife, Insaf, in Beruit, on September 28. Upon returning home to Stamford, the Hassens would continue to show their support and care to the community of Stamford. They also opened their home to Fareed's sister and her children while her husband was deployed to Vietnam. The Hassens would later welcome their daughter, Amal, to the world in 1980, the same year in which Fareed would be named Man of the Year by the Stamford Chamber of Commerce, an honor he would receive again in 1989.
Among his many accomplishments and involvements, Hassen has been a part of the Stamford Jaycees, United Way, VIP Center Board, and Chamber of Commerce. Hassen has also been a part of the Texas Cowboy Reunion for over 20 years and has been a member of the Board of Directors for the West Texas Rehabilitation Center for over 25 years, serving as the Finance Director as well. In addition to his many involvements, Hassen also served on the Stamford ISD School Board and Stamford City Council, being named Mayor Pro Tem during his time on the city council. Due to his efforts to propose and set up elections for the 1/2 cent sales tax, he was instrumental in helping create the Economic Development Corporation, which he still runs to this day.
Even with all of his involvements and accomplishments along the way, life still found a way to test Hassen's spirit when over 30 years ago, he was required to go under the knife to undergo heart surgery with five bypasses and had 13 stents put in. Since then, Hassen has worked to live an active life that includes his daily two-mile walk and prayer time. In 2015 his loving wife Insaf passed away after 47 years of marriage. Hassen said that he gives praise for the beautiful life that they had together, stating that after only being married for a year, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and was given only six months to live. However, the Hassens would overcome the diagnosis through faith, hope and love.
"Insaf was a private person, but always thought of the other person and was not all about herself," Fareed said. "She loved people and they were always welcomed in our home. We always appreciated how blessed we were. It was her request that I not sit and grieve, but that I continue to have faith and live my life. She is in a better place today, and I hope to be with her when I can finish what God has planned for me."
Hassen has continued to follow Insaf's request every day with his daily walk and time of personal reflection. Hassen takes with him a prayer list that is five pages long, stopping along the way to say a prayer for the many people that he has met and helped in some way during his 55 minute walk. Hassen always puts his best foot forward as he greets every person with a smile and a kind word as he continues to do his part for the Stamford community even at the age of 86. Hassen said that in his actions, he tries to focus on God's love and be patient and listen to what He would have him do instead on depending on himself. Fareed Hassen says that his desire every day is to do something to help someone's life, and there is no doubt that he has and will continue to do what he can to help the people of Stamford.