Fred Saab, Jr., 87, of Shawnee, Kansas, died on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at Advent Health Medical Center in Merriam, Kansas. Fred was born on May 13, 1935, in Haskell, Oklahoma to Lebanese immigrants, Fred and Najla Saab.
Fred spent his childhood in Haskell surrounded by a loving family with two brothers, Teddy Kay and Phillip John; two sisters, Susanne and Marianna; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. Fred graduated from Haskell High School in 1953 with honors. He went on to attend Northeastern Oklahoma State University in Tahlequah and graduated with a Bachelors in Science.
He worked for a few years in the oil industry in Texas before deciding to pursue a career in education. Fred earned his Masters in Education from Pittsburg State University, then his PhD at the University of Iowa. On December 27, 1966, Fred married Jan Elizabeth Tholen in Emporia. They made their home in Merriam where Fred was a social studies teacher, counselor, and assistant principal in Shawnee Mission. David Phillip was born in 1969. In 1972, Kathryn Cord joined the family.
The family moved to Iowa City for 12 months shortly thereafter while Fred finished his PhD program. The family moved to Ellisville, Missouri, where Fred served as a high school principal for two years. In the summer of 1976, Fred accepted the position of Assistant Superintendent for the Newton Public Schools, serving USD 373 for the next twenty-three years. In 1980, Paul Kahlil was born, completing Fred’s family. After retirement from USD 373, Fred served as a curriculum consultant for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. While Fred officially retired from education in 2011, he never stopped teaching. He was proud of his Certified Fitness Instructor status and taught fitness classes at the Newton Wellness Center for several years. In 2017, Fred moved to Shawnee, KS and continued to lead exercise classes for the residents of Town and Country Villas, where he resided for the last years of his life.
Fred enjoyed traveling with Jan and their friends, he loved to read and watch movies (and was ready to discuss literature, media, politics, you name it), he made the absolute best hummus, and could jitterbug like nobody else. Fred loved to make people laugh, had a great sense of humor and was genuinely interested in people…he made you feel heard. He made friends wherever he went. He could hold a plank for four minutes and was happy to show you (and compete, if you were so inclined). He adored his grandkids who adored him, in return. Fred was an active member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Newton and he volunteered for the St. Matthew’s Payee Program in Newton.
Fred was preceded in death by his wife, Jan, in 2012.
Fred is survived by his three children, David (Jennifer) of Kansas City, MO, Kathryn Taylor (Ian) of Shawnee, KS, and Paul (Ashlea) of Phoenix, AZ; four grandchildren, Aidan and Declan Taylor, Charlotte Saab, and Oliver Saab; two sisters, Susanne Gross (Jim) of Gaithersburg, MD, and Marianna Patterson (Jim) of Tulsa, OK; one sister-in-law, Nellie Saab, of Denver, CO. Fred had a large extended family, as well, and loved and cared for each and every one.
Internment will occur at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Newton, at a later date, as well as celebration of a life well lived.
Condolences may be sent to Petersen Funeral Home, Newton. Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, or the Jan Elizabeth Saab Endowment Fund through the Central Kansas Community Foundation.
Dear David, Katie and Paul – Words cannot express how much the closeness of our families has meant through lhe years. Your Dad (and Mom) were so unique – so special in all they did – and you are proof of that. Much love to you all. Marilyn Kemme Sjogren
I’ve known Fred since we met as fellow staff members at Milburn Junior High School in the Shawnee Mission School District in 1964. We’ve been good friends ever since. I’ll miss his playful sense of humor and his obvious love and concern for his family and friends.
To the Family of Fred.
We were neighbors for many years. Always enjoyed talking with Fred. Great guy. Will be missed.
To the family of Fred Saab,
Dr. Saab was assistant superintendent during my time a teacher at USD 373. He was well respected, treating everyone with fairness. His smile could diffuse a tough situation.
May peace surround you.