Family and friends of Professor Emeritus Richard Antoun came together last week to celebrate the life of a cherished and respected man.
Approximately 80 members of the campus community and Binghamton community filled the Anderson Center Chamber Hall at 1 p.m. Friday, where speakers - including Binghamton University President Lois DeFleur, students, professors, colleagues and Antoun's widow, Roz Antoun - reminisced about their time with the slain professor.
This was the first time Roz Antoun had spoken publicly since the death of her husband.
"This campus was Dick's home away from home for nearly 40 years," Roz Antoun said. "The students energized him, educated him and brought new ideas to his world."
To honor the memory of Antoun, an Eastern Redbud tree will be planted in the Science I complex near Antoun's office to commemorate his dedication to the University, DeFleur said. The shape and branches of the tree are meant to symbolize Antoun's broad understanding and commitment to the spread of knowledge.
Professors who worked with Antoun spoke of him not only as a coworker, but as a friend.
Theodore Brewster, a programmer analyst in telecommunications at BU, spent numerous lunches with Antoun during the years they worked together. He said that he learned a great deal through their friendship.
"Dick was my teacher. I paid no tuition, he gave me no grades," he said. "I was taught about religious and ethnic traditions. What I learned best was about understanding - understanding 'the other' - what I think he believed to be the key of peace."
Many of Antoun's close friends are still grieving over the loss of the professor, whom they described as an insightful, gracious and just man.
"Sadly he is gone and has left us behind," Khalil Semaan, a professor emeritus of Arabic, said. "I'm going to miss him terribly; he was my best friend."
On Dec. 4, Antoun, 77, was stabbed four times with a 6-inch kitchen blade in Science I around 1:45 p.m. He died at Wilson Memorial Hospital that afternoon. Graduate student Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani was indicted by the Broome County grand jury on Jan. 22 and charged with second-degree murder.
The memorial service was followed by a reception in the Grand Corridor of the Fine Arts Building, which allowed the opportunity for friends, family and colleagues of Antoun to converse.
According to Carol Finch, a member of the Unitarian Universalist church in Binghamton, which she and Antoun both attended, the service and reception met her expectations.
"It was a good tribute to a very special man," Finch said.
The speeches made at the service reflected the impact Antoun had on the lives of those around him.
"The room was filled with warmth and love for my husband," Roz Antoun said. "It was able to highlight how many lives [Antoun] has touched."
The nearly two feet of snow and cancellation of the Off Campus College Transport buses prevented several people from being able to attend the memorial service, but the event was held despite the storm at the request of Roz Antoun.