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Hill Life & People

Saying goodbye to Khalid Mohamed, our relentlessly hardworking circulation master

By Jim Creskey      

Scrupulously honest and intellectually explosive, he was a friend to many of us at The Hill Times for a quarter of a century.

Having defected from the Iraqi Baathist regime in 1978 while he was on a student trip to Montreal, Khalid Mohamed studied in India and then settled with his family in Syria before immigrating to Canada. But the problems and the politics of the Middle East never left his mind. Photograph courtesy of the family of Khalid Mohamed
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Khalid Mohamed came to Canada in 1989, the same year that The Hill Times began publishing. He had two advanced degrees: a master’s in electrical engineering from a university in Mumbai and another master’s in macro-economics from York University that he gained after he became a Canadian.

He had authored several books in Arabic, some on religious leaders, and at the time of his death he was working on one in English. But Khalid’s extensive intellectual life was also the background for a number of intensive family ventures that included farming and starting several service-sector businesses that employed both his family and newcomers to Canada. One of them included the delivery of newspapers, and that was where this newspaper and Khalid’s life first intersected in 1992.

Scrupulously honest and, in his son Omar’s words, “relentless with work,” Khalid and soon his entire family took on the responsibility of delivering The Hill Times first weekly and, later, twice a week.

Because The Hill Times has always been a Dickson-Creskey family-owned business it was a comfortable fit to partner with another family for the delivery of our print editions. We knew we were here to stay in the news business and Khalid and his family felt the same way about becoming our circulation partner.

Delivering more than 20,000 copies of The Hill Times every week is no mean logistical feat. Omar remembers first accompanying his dad on the route when he was six years old. Moving tons of newsprint around the city in the very early hours of the morning offers a view of the capital that few people get to see.

But the demanding work of mapping those deliveries was only what was happening on the outside. On the inside, Khalid Mohamed was a man of boundless vision with a seemingly endless supply of new ideas and solutions to the world’s problems, especially the problems of the Middle East.

Born in 1954, he had defected from the Iraqi Baathist regime in 1978 while he was on a student trip to Montreal. He studied in India and then settled with his family for a time in Syria before immigrating to Canada. But the problems and the politics of the Middle East never left his mind.

“He cared about humanity, especially the Arab world,” his son Omar said. “He was selfless for his family and selfless in welcoming new immigrants to the national capital area, supporting them and finding them work.”

When I hear the word relentless applied to Khalid, I have only to think of the dozens and dozens of times he would step into my office over the years. Each time he would have a new idea about a book or an article that could be written. Usually the goal was to help bring peace to the Middle East. Sometimes it would involve the Americans or the Israelis, sometimes the Saudis. Often it would be a lecture on the Abrahamic religions. He would speak in long paragraphs with great seriousness. And then he would fall silent and listen, inviting a response with a smile.

He was only too happy to share his idealistic enthusiasm, to offer it like a gift, which it was.

At other times he would bring a different kind of gift, a large tray of rich, sweet baklava.

Omar described him as “having a young spirit.” Yes, he was young; now he is always young.

When he died last week at the age of 63 of complications following a stroke and heart attack, he left behind his wife, Amal Atia, his sons, Muthana and Omar, and all of us at The Hill Times.

Jim Creskey is a publisher of The Hill Times.

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