In 1963, Fawzi Dimian left his home in Egypt with a trunk full of belongings and the ambition to earn a doctorate in accounting.
Dimian and his wife, Ivonne, earned postgraduate degrees at the University of Washington and decided to make the United States their home.
Over the years, Dimian's academic career included 20 years at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he taught accounting until 1994. A scholarship and study room at UMD now carry his name.
After he died Dec. 22, at age 85, friends and family members recalled Dimian's devotion to teaching, his passion for fishing and his love for his adopted country.
"You can understand how hard it was to leave their families behind. … They left everything back in Egypt," said his daughter, Amal Dimian, of New Brighton. But, she added: "They wanted to stay in the United States to make a life for all of us. … They realized that there were many more opportunities here."
Dimian was born in Zagazig, Egypt, and was the oldest of six children. He obtained undergraduate and master's degrees from Cairo University in finance and accounting. Dimian and his wife, who preceded him in death, were married for 56 years.
In addition to his work at UMD, Dimian held faculty positions at Seattle University, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and visiting professor positions at the University of Benghazi, Libya.
After he arrived in Duluth around 1975, the family regularly hosted parties in their home for colleagues, friends, neighbors and students. Ivonne's cooking was a lure.
"Hospitality was the name of the game," recalled Larry Syck, a retired professor of accounting at UMD. "He was the kind of guy that all the students warmed up to. He treated them as friends, and held them up to high standards."
Tom LeNeau of St. Cloud credits Dimian with guiding many of his early career decisions. LeNeau was studying accounting as a night student at UMD, but Dimian encouraged him to take classes full time during the day. The professor also pushed LeNeau to take the CPA exam promptly, and to shoot for a job with a major accounting firm.
"He was encouraging, but not coddling," LeNeau said. "I think when he saw potential in people, he really worked to try and help them see the potential in themselves."
Dimian stressed the importance of education to his children and it shows, they said, in the number of advanced degrees earned by members of the family.
In a eulogy, son Adel Dimian also wrote of his father's devotion to his Christian beliefs, his pervasive sense of joy and his good fortune at fishing.
"One of the milestones in his life, and also ours, was the day we stood as a family and took the oath to become naturalized citizens of these United States," Adel Dimian wrote.
"He was Egyptian. But he was most proud of being an American. His life is the embodiment of the American dream and he would insist to the end of his days that that dream still exists."
At the time of his death, Dimian was living in Apple Valley. He is survived by daughter Amal, sons Adel and Atef, plus six grandchildren.
Services have been held.