Nebeil Al-Oboudi Nebeil Jassim Al-Oboudi, son, brother, father, uncle and cousin was born May 13, 1951 in Evanston, Illinois and died in Houston, Texas on June 6, 2011. He was the first born of Jassim Mizil Al-Oboudi and Margaret Ann (Morris) Al-Oboudi. His father was born in Shatra, Iraq and grew up in the capital Baghdad. His mother was born in Cassopolis, Michigan and grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois. His father’s tribal heritage was from southern Iraq and his mother was a descendent of ten Morris generations that came to the American colonies in 1640. Nebeil’s parents met as theatre students at the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman Theatre, the Art Institute of Chicago. 1
Nebeil’s father, Jassim Al-Oboudi, completed his education in theatre in June of 1953 earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Directing. The family now consisting of two children, Nebeil and younger Jameil, moved to Iraq in the fall of 1953. Nebeil’s father worked as a teacher at the Fine Arts Institute in Baghdad and founded the Free Theatre Group in 1954. He later held the post of Dean of the Fine Arts Institute and the burgeoning Academy of Fine Arts of Baghdad University in 1963-64 (later the College of Fine Arts). During the course of his academic and theatrical career Mr. Al-Oboudi raised the level of theatre arts practices in his native country and is considered a distinguished pioneer of the modern Iraqi theatre. On May 23, 2011 the Jassim AlOboudi Theatre was dedicated at the Fine Arts Institute in Baghdad in honor and memory of all his contributions. Nebeil’s mother, Margaret Ann Al-Oboudi, was notable as the first woman to teach Make-Up for theatre at the Fine Arts Institute in Baghdad and was the make-up artist for most of her husband’s productions and other theatre and television productions. She also belonged to a group interested in Iraq’s archeological heritage and was a participant in numerous cultural activities.
Nebeil received all of his formal education in Iraq. He began at the Chaldean Sisters elementary and continued his elementary education at Al-Tatbiqat Primary school through the sixth grade. He was then enrolled in the prestigious Baghdad College, an American Jesuit intermediate and secondary school. He graduated from Baghdad College in June 1968.
Nebeil was active in sports throughout his childhood and youth. He was the captain of his football (soccer) team while at Baghdad College and on occasion competed as a long distance runner.
After graduating from secondary school Nebeil worked as a television anchor of the English portion of the late evening news for Baghdad television. His was a capable translator and editor of the copy he presented. Nebeil’s next employment was with Iraq’s National Import Company, tire imports division, and he continued his higher education at night at Mustansiriyah University’s Political Science and Economics program. Though busy with work and studies he still found time to play sports, most notably basketball for Al-Karada Club. Nebeil completed his bachelor’s degree with honors in June 1973. He was then drafted into the Iraqi Army and began his service in August 1973. After completing basic training Nebeil was posted at a base near the Iraqi-Jordanian border. His duties were with the supply office. During the period of his service he formed and coached a basketball team of regular army recruits. His efforts paid off when his rag-tag team beat the highly touted visiting Iraqi Air Force team. His military service ended in the latter part of 1974 and he resumed his work at the Iraqi National Import Company.
Nebeil moved to the United States in 1975. He lived and worked in Three Rivers, Michigan for over two years before moving to other cities over the course of seven years. During his stint in Michigan he continued playing sports as well most notably for the Kalamazoo Aravco Soccer team. Nebeil moved to Houston, Texas in 1982 and worked as an independent contractor for the renovating and decorating of homes and buildings. His love of team sports continued until his fifties. Nebeil’s true passion came from his work for peace and justice. He became involved with numerous groups over the years. He went to meetings, rallies and protests all over the United States. Among the 4
groups he worked with included Houston Truth, Voices in the Wilderness with Kathy Kelly of Chicago, the K.N.O.W group (Kalamazoo Non-violent Opponents of War) in Kalamazoo, Michigan; the Iraq Veterans Against War, and Cindy Sheen’s Camp Casey at Crawford, Texas. Among his last activities were attending the Social Forum in Detroit, Michigan in the summer of 2010 as well as the Nuke Watch protest at Y-12 in Tennessee to stop the building of more nuclear weapons. He also was a founding member of the Iraqi League in Houston, Texas in the fall of 2010 before he left on his last visit to Iraq January to April 2011. Throughout the course of his activities for peace and justice he regularly reported his findings and gave extensive interviews to various media outlets.
Nebeil was a regular guest on the radio program Arab Voices in Houston, Texas and was a guest of the program before the 2003 invasion of Iraq that included Daniel Ellsberg who published the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration. Nebeil also was a guest of the program during his visits to Iraq in 2004, 2006 and during his visit in March 2011. Nebeil gained tremendous pleasure as an attendee of the Baghdad College alumni reunions that were held every other year at various cities in United States or Canada. Alumni came from countries from all over the world representing Iraq’s diaspora. Nebeil was able to reconnect with former teachers and students and make new friends from graduates of other years. Activities at such reunions included reporting on the various efforts made on behalf of improving the lives of the Iraqi people and building hope toward a better future. 5
Nebeil was devoted to his family and was a strong help to his late father and the right hand helper to his mother. He was a kind and gentle guide to his brothers. He was an outgoing person who cared for all the people he met. He was a veritable United Nations since he met people from all over the world and from all walks of life. He loved music, the arts and nature. He loved travel and had the opportunity to see many parts of the United States. He also traveled to various European capitals and had extended stays in Moscow. He returned to Iraq on many occasions over the years and following his return from his last trip he became very ill. His condition worsened and he was admitted to West Houston Hospital on May 5, 2011, shortly before his sixtieth birthday. He was diagnosed with pneumonia that proved to be fatal. Nebeil was laid to rest at Forest Park Cemetery in Houston, Texas. Services were held at Al-Rasoul Al-Akram Mosque in Houston. A memorial held in his honor was held at the Arab Community Center in Houston on June 10, 2011. He leaves to treasure his memory his son Firas (Houston, Texas), his mother Margaret Ann (Kalamazoo, Michigan), his seven siblings Jameil (Chicago, Illinois), Waleed (La Jolla, California), Fareed (Torrance, California), Bassil (Houston, Texas), Idris (Torrance, California), Marium (Solana Beach, California), Daniel (Hawthorne, California), twelve nieces and nephews, three aunts and one uncle from his mother’s family and twenty-four cousins and many more relatives in Iraq. He leaves to his fellow activists the task of carrying on with the work he was dedicated to for many years to achieve true peace and justice.
Condolences by E-mail can be sent to his brother Fareed’s E-mail at email@example.com. Condolences by mail can be sent to: Margaret Ann Al-Oboudi, 1120 Palmer Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49001. Condolences for his 40th day remembrance can be offered at his family gathering at Marium Al-Oboudi’s home on 725 San Mario, Solana Beach, California (858) 755-1961 and at Adala Al-Oboudi’s home on 11859 Plumbrook Drive, Houston, Texas (713) 240-3386. 6