A Message from the Khanachet Family
Dear Resurrection Parishioners,
We invite all of our friends and family to join us virtually to attend funeral services for Fawaz through the Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church YouTube channel, which can be accessed through the Church website and the link below. The funeral will be live-streamed on Thursday, March 11 at 11:00 a.m. PT. CLICK HERE to watch.
Sadly, we must respectfully ask that community members please NOT come to the church, the church hall, or the parking lot to attend the ceremony. Due to the ongoing health concerns of the pandemic and family health issues and risk factors, we are holding a very small, private, in-person ceremony and unfortunately cannot accommodate the gathering of the greater community at this time. However, we understand how much Fawaz meant to so many people, and so we will plan to hold a large, in-person memorial gathering in a few months when it is safe to do so. At that time, we will welcome the greater community of Fawaz’s friends, extended family, and fellow parishioners to join us in paying respects and celebrating his amazing life.
In lieu of flowers, the family humbly requests that donations be made in Fawaz’s name to the Resurrection Building Project Capital Campaign, which is a cause that was very near and dear to his heart. Please CLICK HERE to donate. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love and support.
With love and gratitude,
Connie, Julie, and Dina
May His Memory Be Eternal
Fawaz Khanachet passed away peacefully on March 4, 2021 in his home in Danville, CA, surrounded by family. He was called to the Lord after fighting a long, valiant battle with pancreatic cancer over the past two years. He was just a couple weeks shy of his 78th birthday.
Fawaz was born on March 21, 1943 in Damascus, Syria to Rizkallah and Julia Khanachet. He was the first Khanachet boy born of his generation, and thus brought great honor and joy to the family. He was the eldest of four children, and when his father Rizkallah passed away, Fawaz was just 13 years old. He in turn became the father figure of the family, and at this tender young age, he learned tremendous lessons about duty to family, and to put others before himself always. His widowed mother struggled to make ends meet for her four children, and so to earn extra money, she would work late into the evenings producing intricate needlework, creating Aubusson style tapestries. Fawaz inherited her creative and artistic talents, and he observed her closely to learn how to produce this artisan craft. He in turn assisted her in completing these works more quickly, so as to help earn money for the family.
After high school, Fawaz entered the University of Damascus where he studied Civil Engineering and received his degree in 1967. Fawaz had an active social life, and made friends that he still was connected to, even at the time of his death. Soon afterwards, his uncle Subhi Khanachet made arrangements for Fawaz to come and work in the United States, and helped him find a job in San Francisco, working at the Earl & Wright Engineering Firm. During this time, Fawaz worked on various projects including the Coronado bridge in San Diego. Fawaz then decided to pursue a master’s degree in Civil Engineering, and was accepted to the program at Stanford in 1970, and completed his degree in 1971.
When Fawaz first arrived in San Francisco in 1968, he began attending at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in San Francisco where he met his future Best Man, Ed Godosian. Ed invited him to join the Byzantine Chorale, a multi-ethnic group of young, Orthodox Christian adults who found fellowship in singing and performing Byzantine hymns for various festivals and church events. This group had a very lively social scene and threw parties and dances and there were always opportunities for fun events on weekends. It was at one of these such events where Fawaz met the love of his life, Connie (Alfiers) Vrettos of Oakland. The two were married in June of 1970, and had two daughters, Julianne a.k.a. Julie, born in 1973, and Dina, born in 1977. Given that most of his family was so far away still in Syria, Fawaz was grateful to be welcomed warmly into the large and gregarious Vrettos/Alfiers family, and over the next few years became very close with his sisters-in-law Evonne and Vikki, and their husbands Nikos and Tom.
Fawaz worked at Cygna Energy Services during the late 1970s, and had the opportunity in 1980 to move to Richland, Washington where he opened a new branch office and worked on the Washington Public Power Supply System. In 1984, Fawaz and his family returned to the Bay Area and bought a home in Oakland, where the family lived for eight years before moving to Danville in 1992. Fawaz continued to work on various structural engineering projects for a handful of different engineering firms in the private sector before working as a Senior Project Manager at the Alameda County General Services Agency until he retired in 2013.
The family attended church both at the Ascension Cathedral in Oakland, as well as the Resurrection Church in Castro Valley. During this time, Fawaz became very involved and enjoyed helping at the Greek Festivals. Eventually he became more involved and committed to the Castro Valley parish, after spending memorable Labor Day weekend retreats at St. Nicholas Ranch. Fawaz always served in some sort of leadership role at church, whether it was chairing the Greek Festival, serving on the Parish Council, as well as working on the Building Project and towards building a new, larger location for his beloved Resurrection Parish.
Though Fawaz held many different positions both at work and at church, his favorite role by far has been Jiddo (grandfather, in Arabic). Fawaz has always loved children, and he was renowned for his ability to charm babies and toddlers, and he was known by many as the Baby Whisperer. He became a grandfather in September of 2004, when his daughter Dina adopted and brought home from Kazakhstan his first grandson, Alex, who was 9 months old. Dina then had her daughter Mary in 2006, and then Julie gave birth to her son Ewan in 2007, and finally Dina gave Fawaz his fourth grandchild in 2012 when her daughter Elena (Ellie) was born. Fawaz absolutely adored all of his grandchildren, and nothing made him happier than to have them all in the house and helping him in the kitchen. And they loved to be around him!
But then again, everyone who knew Fawaz loved to be around him. You couldn’t help but love him. He had an unparalleled warmth and welcoming quality that drew people to him instantly. He thrived when surrounded by people he loved, and was happiest when entertaining friends and family, feeding tremendous meals to everyone lucky enough to visit his kitchen. His talents as an amazing cook were legendary, but his gifts didn’t end there. He was a born leader and was an absolute pillar of his community at church, at work, and in his family. He was an intensely creative spirit, expressing his artistry in the dozens of intricate mosaics he lovingly crafted. Many of these pieces were nostalgic scenes of his beloved homeland of Syria, as well as meaningful icons and religious scenes. He was a man of deep faith, and he loved the church and served in so many ways.
He also loved to travel, and he took many memorable trips over the years with his family on a Caribbean cruise, to Europe and even a solo voyage to his beloved homeland of Syria in 2009 before it was completely ravaged by war. Even after he was first diagnosed with cancer, he pledged to continue living life to the fullest, and in April of 2019 traveled with Connie and his daughter Julie’s family to New York where he checked off his #1 Bucket List item: watching an opera live at the Metropolitan Opera House. He adored opera and classical music, so seeing Don Giovanni on that illustrious stage was a huge highlight of his life. Later that year, he traveled with his other daughter Dina and her family on a cruise to Alaska and Victoria. There they enjoyed ten days of beauty and splendor, with the legendary Butchart Gardens being one of Fawaz’s favorite excursions. His family will forever treasure the memories created during those trips.
Fawaz is survived by his wife of 50 years, Connie; daughters Julie (Gavin) Reid, Dina (Scott) Taylor; grandchildren Alex, Mary, and Elena Holton and Ewan Reid; his brother Ramzi (Ragheda) Khanachet, sisters Hind (Fariz) Demetree, Samar Walters; sisters-in-law Evonne (Nikos) Yfantis, Vikki (Thomas) Fraoili; as well as numerous nieces and nephews in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and Jacksonville, Florida.
A private service was held at Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church in Castro Valley, CA. He is interred at Oakmont Memorial Park, Lafayette, CA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Fawaz’s name to the Resurrection Church Building Project Capital Campaign, 20104 Center Street, Castro Valley, CA 94546.