Riad Ghaleb Mahayni passed away peacefully on June 23rd after a courageous battle with cancer. Just as he would have wished, Riad spent his final moments surrounded by his family, nieces, and nephews. The youngest of seven children, Riad was born on May 6, 1942, to Ghaleb and Rushdiyeh in Damascus, Syria.
Riad came to the United States in 1962 to study at Oregon State University and stayed in the northwest until 1972. In this time he earned his Master of Urban Planning from the University of Oregon and his Doctor of Philosophy in Regional Planning from the University of Washington. In 1973, Riad relocated to the east coast where he spent several years teaching at the University of Rhode Island. In 1979, Riad was recruited to Iowa State to launch and chair the Department of Community and Regional Planning.
Riad married Fatina in 1981 and in 1983 they welcomed their first child, Basil. Later in the year, Riad, Fatina, and Basil moved to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he led the holy city's regional planning efforts. While overseas, Riad and Fatina welcomed their second son Tamim in 1984. Riad and his family returned to Ames in 1986 so that he could rejoin the faculty at Iowa State. Under Riad's leadership, the department earned national recognition and accreditation of its undergraduate and graduate programs by the Planning Accreditation Board, expanded the number of faculty and students, and increased collaboration with communities in central Iowa and around the world. Riad retired from Iowa State in 2012.
Riad was deeply devoted to Fatina and his kids and regularly reminded us that nothing is more important than the bonds between us. He was often the most vocal parent on the sidelines of Basil and Tamim's soccer games, frequently calling out that he's hungry when it was time for that game winning goal. Almost daily, Riad would phone his siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends and never hesitated to support near and distant relatives during difficult times.
Riad was a devoted and compassionate teacher. In his thirty years at Iowa State, he taught thousands of undergraduate students and advised hundreds of graduate students. In the process, he formed relationships that transcended his time with them in the classroom. Dad stressed the importance of critical, analytical, and solution-oriented thinking and to always do what is best for our communities. This past spring, we honored dad with the announcement of the Riad Mahayni Civic Planning Award, a scholarship which will support students in his former department.
Riad was also committed to the city of Ames. He spent over 20 years serving the community, including chairing the Historic and Preservation Committee, serving on the Planning and Zoning Committee, and for nine years represented the 4th Ward on the Ames City Council. Riad was instrumental in the establishment of the Darul Arqum Islamic Center in west Ames and helped to forge a strong relationship between the Ames community and the university. He was also involved in numerous community organizations, including Youth and Shelter Services, Story County United Way, and Ames Rotary Club.
Dad always loved telling stories, particularly over a cup of his famous Turkish coffee. With his distinct Syrian accent, Riad had an incredible ability to hold an audience and impart perspective and wisdom that will stay with us for a lifetime. Though we will miss him dearly, we are fortunate to have so many great memories of him and with him.
Riad is survived by his wife Fatina, sons Basil (Amal) of Arlington, Virginia, and Tamim (Danielle) of Ames, his adorable granddaughter Daliah, his sister Tharwat (Atlanta, Georgia), and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins in the United States and Syria. The family would like to thank all of the staff at Mary Greeley Medical Center, particularly the physicians, nurses, and staff in the William R. Bliss Cancer Center, the staff at the Israel Family Hospice House, and our friends and family for their support over the last few months. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Riad Mahayni Civic Planning Scholarship at Iowa State's Department of Community and Regional Planning. A memorial service will be held at the Iowa State University College of Design Lyle E. Lightfoot Forum (Atrium) at 5pm on Thursday June 29.
Online condolences may be directed to www.grandonfuneralandcremationcare.com
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