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Hormuzd Y. Rassam passed away peacefully the morning of December 21, 2022, with his family by his side at the age of 91 ½. He was born at home in Mosul, Iraq on June 21, 1931, to Yousuf Nimrod and Najma Bunni Rassam. He was the great Nephew of the noted archeologist, Hormuzd Rassam (1826-1910) Before his death he received, consciously and by choice, the Last Rites of the Catholic Church.
Upon graduating from high school with the Dominicans from France in 1949, Hormuzd was admitted to The College of Engineering at Baghdad University, graduating with a BS Degree with honors in 1953. He received the honor award from The British Petroleum Company, where he was employed for five years from 1953 to 1958. While attending the College of Engineering, Hormuzd had the good fortune of taking a class from a professor whom he admired immensely. As it turned out, the admired professor had pursued graduate studies at the University of Michigan. Naturally, that was the place to pursue graduate studies! In September 1958, Hormuzd arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in June 1960, was awarded his MS Degree in Civil Engineering. While attending the University of Michigan, academics was his top priority, but he became a lifelong fan of the Michigan football team in his later life and never missed watching a game when the Wolverines were playing. He would pull his chair up close to the TV to be able to watch every single play. Go Blue! Hormuzd went on to earn his PHD at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO. His career included teaching at Colorado School of Mines in Golden and Ft. Lewis College in Durango. He also joined the staff at Highlands University Farmington branch, as Dean of the Humanities Dept. from 2006-2010.
In his professional career he strove to make the building and projects functional, beautiful, and lasting. He enjoyed engineering projects with a tricky solution, such as the temporary strengthening of a bridge for some very heavy equipment. He was very proud of his Assyro-Chaldean heritage and being a Chaldean Catholic. He loved the Aramaic prayers and chants that he grew up with and continued to sing them his whole life whenever he could. When attending Mass, he would say many prayers quietly to himself in Aramaic.
Hormuzd was a natural-born storyteller. His recall of events and dates was phenomenal, whether he was talking about personal experiences or world-wide events, he was very knowledgeable about the subject. Whenever he started a sentence saying “well, back in 1962” ….……. we would settle in and prepare for a long, accurate narrative teaching session!
He never lost his penchant for learning. He took many college classes through the Encore Program at San Juan college, had a collection of learning lectures on CDs. His interests ranged from history, politics, architecture, ancient historical figures, religion and more. He had a set of lessons on learning the Spanish language and was determined to perfect his expertise in that language. He claimed to speak seven languages but would grin and say he knew enough to get by. He and Kaye attended the Chautauqua Presentations at San Juan College every time one was scheduled. His learning continued well into his 80’s.
A friend once wrote in a greeting card to Hormuzd that he considered him to be a “gentleman and a scholar” That pretty much sums it up! He truly was a gentleman (a gentle man) and a lifelong scholar.
Hormuzd had a wonderful sense of humor, although it bordered on sarcasm at times and was not always apparent. Many times, he would say “You just don’t’ see the humor, do you?” When he smiled his eyes smiled and lit up his whole face
He was extremely happy and proud to study for and receive his US Citizenship certificate, naturalization papers, and a personal letter from Senator Pete Dominici on January 13, 1983.
After receiving his PhD, Dr. Hormuzd Rassam took himself on a trip around the globe: visiting many historical sites and taking various forms of transportation including the Orient Express. He ended up coming back to America on the Queen Mary an experience he often talked about.
Hormuzd was preceded in death by his parents: Yousuf and Najma Bunni Rassam, his brothers Addai and Narsay Rassam and his sister Marie Rassam.
Surviving is his wife of 23 years Kaye E. Rassam, Beloved Son: V. Rev. Yousuf Rassam (Rachel) of Van Nuys, CA., beloved Stepsons: Ken Howell (Cindy) of Albuquerque, NM, Andy Howell (Lynn) of Farmington, NM. Beloved Daughter: Najma Fowner (Andrew) of Albuquerque, Beloved Stepdaughters: Patty Howell and Sharon Howell both of Farmington, NM. Also surviving are 18 grandchildren, 13 Greatgrand children with two more expected in 2023. One sister Balquis Rassam Haddad. Several Nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be celebrated at 1:00 pm Wednesday January 11, 2023, at St. John’s Episcopal Church 312 N. Orchard with Fr. Guy Mackey and Fr. Yousuf Rassam presiding. Inurnment St. John’s Episcopal Church Columbarium.
In lieu of flowers the family would like you to consider in his memory a contribution to the Four Corners Foundation, PO Box 5160, Farmington, New Mexico, 87401 in c/o Matthew DeKay, MD.
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