By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Fatme Abuelhawa, also known as “Fay” by Dearborn residents and employees, died unexpectedly on Feb. 26 after working almost 20 years as a cashier with the city.
The 59-year-old Dearborn resident worked as a cashier associate and bookkeeper in the Department of Finance Treasury Division since 1999.
Dearborn Public Information Director Mary Laundroche said Abuelhawa preferred working as a cashier because she had the chance to interact with customers.
The City Council offered condolences to Abuelhawa’s family during its Feb. 26 meeting. Council President Susan Dabaja said those who worked with Abuelhawa found her knowledge and expertise to be a staple for the office.
“Her kind disposition and sweet spirit became a rock for the Treasury department, especially during the tax season,” Dabaja said. “No matter how long the lines grew, she never became frustrated with residents or co-workers. She always remained a constant — even under added pressure.
“Her smile was the highlight for many residents who came in regularly to pay their bills. She made everyone feel as if they were family and she became a true friend to all.”
Also, Dabaja added she received several text messages from people throughout the city wondering and inquiring about Abuelhawa’s death.
“Her presence in the city will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing her,” Dabaja said. “Fay’s sisters, Aida and Lelia, wish for all to know that Fay was a such a good person, she wore her heart on her sleeve and it was a loving heart of gold through and through. She inspired all who knew her to strive to be better people.”
Councilman Brian O’Donell said tax time lines always do get long and people get a little cranky waiting, but that Abuelhawa was always smiling and greeting people.
“It was amazing. You would walk by the window and never a scowl,” he said. “People would be upset wondering what’s taking so long, but she was always smiling and a wonderful person. I don’t know how she did it, but just from inside out it was beautiful.”
Abuelhawa’s received condolences on Feb. 25 followed by funeral services on Feb. 26 at the Al-Salam Dearborn Community Center, 3900 Schaefer Road. She was buried Feb. 26 at Plymouth United Memorial Gardens, 4800 Curtis Road in Plymouth.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])