Halaby, Najeeb E(lias) 1915-2003

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HALABY, Najeeb E(lias) 1915-2003


See index for CA sketch: Born December 19, 1915, in Dallas, TX; died July 2, 2003, in McLean, VA. Businessman, attorney, and author. Halaby was a former airline executive at Pan American World Airways who was more famously known as the father of Queen Noor of Jordan. The son of a Lebanese-Syrian man who married an American citizen, Halaby became Americanized and forgot the little Arabic he learned after his father died when he was young. He attended Stanford University, where he earned his A.B. in 1937, followed by law school at the University of Michigan and Yale University, where he graduated with an L.L.B. in 1940. Training as a pilot while a teenager, he worked for the Lockheed Aircraft Corp. for a year before joining the U.S. Navy during World War II as a test pilot of such planes as the Messerschmitt Me262, Focke-Wulf FW190, and Bell XP59 jet. After the war he worked as an advisory to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and then as deputy assistant for international security for the U.S. State Department. During the 1950s Halaby also worked for L. S. Rockefeller & Bros. from 1953 to 1956, and was secretary-treasurer and counsel for Aerospace Corp. and president of American Technology Corp. After practicing as a private attorney for two years, in 1961 Halaby was appointed by President John F. Kennedy as head of the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), making him the highest-ranking Arab American in government at the time. Some of his accomplishments while with the FAA including creating closer ties with the Civil Aeronautics Board and establishing the U.S. Flight Academy in Oklahoma City. In 1968 he was hired as president of Pan American Airlines, becoming chairman and chief executive officer the next year. While with Pan Am, Halaby encouraged the use jumbo jets, which he correctly predicted would become a popular means of transportation, though he incorrectly predicted that supersonic jets would become the rage in later years. Halaby also pressed for better treatment of minorities within Pan Am and worked to increase security in light of the growing risks of hijackings during the 1960s. When Pan Am found itself in financial trouble, however, Halaby became the scapegoat and was fired in 1972. He went on to found Halaby International Corp. in 1973, and DartRail in 1980. His interest in railway systems also led to his chairmanship of Dulles Access Rapid Transit, Inc., from 1985 until 1998. Halaby spent his final years doing charity work as chair of the Save the Children Foundation from 1992 to 1998. Despite his accomplishments in the transportation field, he perhaps gained his greatest fame as the father of Lisa Halaby, who became Jordan's Queen Noor in 1978, thus making Halaby King Hussein I's father-in-law. Halaby was the author of Crosswinds: An Airman's Memoir (1978).



Chicago Tribune, July 6, 2003, section 4, p. 9.

New York Times, July 3, 2003, p. A22.

Times (London, England), August 12, 2003.

Washington Post, July 3, 2003, p. B7.