Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Faz Husain passes on

10. March 2006 • MarkDilley
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via ypsi~dixit

Former Ypsi City Council member Faz Husain, the widely beloved owner of Hello Faz pizza shop on W. Liberty in Ann Arbor, has died at 54.

He was a friendly shining star.

  1. Awww. Goodbye, Faz.

       —js    Mar. 10 '06 - 11:07PM    #
  2. A couple months ago, I was using a free pizza coupon at Hello Faz, and Faz himself passed by me in a car as I was leaving and offered to give me a ride wherever I was walking. (I declined, but was grateful.) A true mensch, as they say.

    Here’s praying that God says, “Hello Faz!”
       —David Boyle    Mar. 11 '06 - 06:48AM    #
  3. For those who didn’t know Faz, you missed out. Faz was one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to know. I got to see him once while he was very sick, on oxygen, while he was out (against doctors orders) supporting one of his sons. The community has lost a great asset.

       —Just a Voice    Mar. 11 '06 - 08:50PM    #
  4. “The community has lost a great asset.”

    Amen to that. We did a lot of business with that man in our first couple of years….he was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.

    Very, very sad.

       —todd    Mar. 12 '06 - 12:45AM    #
  5. Ann Arbor News, Mourners flock to funeral for ‘just a pizza guy’: Faz Husain recalled for his many kind acts and concern for others ,

    ”...Husain, widely known in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area, died Thursday evening at the University of Michigan Hospital, his immediate family at his side and his large extended family in the hall. He was 54.

    “He was the type of guy nobody could ever dislike,’’ said his cousin, Afraz Ahmed of Ypsilanti, whose deep voice and Indian accent are nearly identical to Husain’s. “He was always optimistic and loving. We will miss him immensely.’’

    Husain moved from India to Ypsilanti 40 years ago when his father was recruited for a job at Eastern Michigan University.

    Kevin Kerr remembers his fellow Ypsilanti High School student as the same outgoing, loving guy as he was until the end.

    “There wasn’t anybody who wasn’t his friend,’’ Kerr said.

    Over the years, Husain got a big kick out of meeting and being photographed with celebrities, from Muhammad Ali to Bill Clinton to Queen Elizabeth. He was working on a book about how to meet famous people.

    Husain was a member of the Ypsilanti City Council in the early 1980s, and ran unsuccessfully for mayor. He owned several pizzerias over the years, the latest of which is Hello Faz Pizza on West Liberty Street in Ann Arbor.

    Local sports teams received countless pizzas from Husain at cost that they sold at fundraising concessions.

    Many in the Ann Arbor Public Schools were upset Friday morning to hear that Husain had passed away, said Mary Anne Jaeger, principal of Dicken Elementary School. She called Husain a community icon and said people will miss the “Faz love’’ he dished out.

    Strite, a physical education teacher and coach at Slauson Middle School, recalled how eagerly Husain helped the schools any way he could. He said he had been in the process of getting Husain a proclamation as honorary mayor of Ypsilanti.

    ...Ahmed said his cousin’s funeral Friday at the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor was standing-room-only, with people waiting outside. About 500 people attended the burial at Highland Cemetery in Ypsilanti. The family plans to hold a memorial service next week, and will announce details when they are finalized.

    In an interview with The News at his house last month, Husain said that he had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable, untreatable scarring of the lung.

    Husain said he would have liked to grow older, and especially regretted leaving behind his 11-year-old son, Ismail, a sixth-grader at Slauson Middle School, and his wife, Nikki, whom he wed in an arranged marriage in India in 1977.

    Other survivors include his son, Ali, 22, a University of Michigan senior, and his daughter, Nadia, 26. Husain had spent years trying to find a man he believed was good enough for his daughter. She married Naumaan Mallhi last month in a wedding moved up so that her father could attend. He wasn’t well, but he was there.

    In the recent interview, Husain said he was satisfied knowing he did as much as he could for as long as he could.

    “I’m just a pizza guy,’’ he said. “But I hope I’ll leave a loving mark.’’”

       —David Boyle    Mar. 12 '06 - 08:06AM    #
  6. I sent this email to Mitch Albom from the Free Press when I heard that Faz was deathly-ill. I’m posting it here because I would encourage anybody/everybody who was ever touched by this incredible person to write about Faz. I think that Faz’ legacy will live on but Faz was never one to blow his own horn. Though there were plenty of us out there to do it for him, as he passes, we’re left with a memory that needs to be shared.

    Mr. Albom,
    Just a note… and a request… about one of my favorite Ann Arborites, who (if you don’t already know him) you should know.

    Faz Husain, the embodiment of the American dream, for those of us who have forgotten what it means (or, those, who like 5th graders who stop believing in Santa Claus, no longer really believe it exists) is deathly ill with a disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Just a few weeks ago, the Ann Arbor News ran an article about Faz and his condition
    ... Today, I learned he’s in the hospital and in grave condition.

    We moved here to Ann Arbor in 2000 from California (native ‘fornians, at that) and, frankly, no regrets, largely because of the friends we’ve made here. And, Faz is at the top of the heap… I cannot do anything for him but honor him in the best ways I know. This is one way. Please help me (and all of the hundreds, if not thousands, of others that I know Faz has touched over the past 30 years) honor this sweet and honorable man.

    What does this have to do with sports, you ask? Well,... first, I don’t ascribe just “sportswriter” to you; If it helps any, when my wife and I were first married, she was awed by how long I would spend with the Sunday (L.A.) Times sports section (a really good one that covers more than just regional sports)... In answer, I told her that sports is “human interest” and that it describes, in fairly innocent terms, the human condition, with all of its failings as well as it’s successes. More than that, it describes man’s attempt to rise above this human condition and attempt greatness. It describes (or, hopefully, should describe) the best of being human… and, even on the left coast, I always knew you to be a prime example of the “practicer of the art” of chronicling this human condition.

    Any way,... as you can tell from the article (linked above), Faz is a pizza guy in Ann Arbor, but he’s never owned a professional sports franchise. Also, though I have no way of knowing this, when Chris Webber famously reported that he couldn’t even afford a pizza while a student-athlete at UofM, I’m pretty sure that he never met Faz because, if all of the pizzas and liter bottles of pop and cheesy bread that this decidedly un-athletic middle-aged guy received “gratis” from Faz is any indication, Mr. Webber never would have had to worry about pizza (and, NCAA be damned, all of us other free-loaders would have defended Faz’ right to be generous with his pizza).

    I do know that Faz has a link to athletic great-ness with his personal friendship with Muhammed Ali, who once campaigned for Faz during his mayoral campaign in Ypsi… and, to see the great number of photos with the famous that Faz has on display, I’m sure I could find another athletic link for you.

    No, maybe the best athletic link is the one to his pride and joy, his son, Ali, a pitcher on the UofM baseball team (and already forced into taking over for his dad in running the family business)... You see, for Faz (as I know from untold numbers of conversations with him), the most important thing was always family (both real and, by extension, the “family” made up of anybody that he could reach out and hug). I don’t know if his son will ever “succeed” as a baseball player and I don’t know if Faz has a great inheritance of a nest egg for his kids and wife, Nikki, but I do know that this would only matter to Faz inasmuch as he wants to take care of his loved ones. No, the inheritance that Faz is leaving to his family (and, indeed, to all of us who have stumbled into his tiny little shop only to discover a Taj Mahal of love) is the inheritance of integrity, love and, overall, a lesson in living a good life.

    I was lucky to have a great father, one who taught me a lesson in humility that I am sure I will never be able to master as well as he did… but, I honestly consider myself to be doubly lucky having met Faz. And, when the day comes that he is no longer with us, I will be sad but also proud to have been lucky enough to have come so close to a greatness that few understand. God bless you, Faz!

    Here’s another link to an article that gives another look at Faz:

    Pete Montero

       —Pete Montero    Mar. 12 '06 - 06:31PM    #
  7. Here is a column I wrote about Faz in Oct. 2004 and let me tell you—I’ve interviewed many people but this man was literally some type of Saint or something. His message came to me at a time when I needed to embrace radical love of myself and all others. Changed my life. No joke.
    Charmie Gholson
    The Power of Love and the Pizza Man

    Faz’s Hello Pizza
    2259 W. Liberty St.
    Ann Arbor, 741-7777
    Last month, God spoke to me through the pizza man.

    There is a voice crying out in the wilderness, calling. One lone voice of reason lifted above the madness. You don’t have to take my word for it, just call 741-7777 and you can hear it yourself.

    Anyone who orders pizza in this town knows Faz, not only because of the hundreds of pictures of him with famous people adorning his pizza shop and flyers, but because Faz is, quite literally, one of the kindest human beings you will ever meet.

    Faz’s Hello Pizza opened in 1994, but he’s been in the pizza business since September 12, 1966, when a delivery driver picked him up hitchhiking at the age of 14. Faz had just moved here from India.

    “I made pizza boxes,” Faz recalls, “and the boss was impressed because I made good pizza boxes and called him boss. He paid me 50 cents an hour and I was very happy.

    “One day, I was standing outside the pizza shop and I saw a big crowd across the street and I walked over there and there was Bobby Kennedy giving a speech in front of Pease Auditorium at EMU.

    “It was most amazing. He is so charismatic in person, the brother of the President, JFK. I was impressed, but I didn’t have a camera. I wrote to everybody back home that I saw Bobby Kennedy but nobody believed me.

    “So I started carrying a camera around and because of the camera you see some of the pictures I have of me with famous people.

    “I wrote a letter to my teacher. My teacher was Mother Teresa, the real Mother Teresa. She was called Sister Teresa then. I had to go to a Christian school to learn English. She use to teach us there, and she just told me I’m going to America to love everybody. That was what her favorite word—was to love everybody.

    “I literally came to America and fell in love with all the beautiful people. They all looked like Kennedys. Some of them had different skin color and they all looked like Mohammad Ali to me.

    “American people are great people, truthfully, A lot of people say—Americans themselves say—‘We are not good enough.’ I think Americans are the most charitable people in the world, the most-open minded in the world. They are not prejudiced against people.

    “The country I was born into, Ghandi’s country and Mother Teresa being my teacher, the thing is to love everybody, and I do. I don’t love people just for the heck of it. I love because all the great people of the world said to love one another because when you love others, they love you back. Help others and we help ourselves. That is why God says to love others. All humans need love. If you want to be happy and have a good life, we have to do this.”

    Faz speaks of the power of criticizing someone you love, how if you do it out of love, they can actually hear you. “If you love someone and you’re doing it to correct them, that’s why Mother Teresa says to love everybody, we can criticize them and love them.”

    That’s true if you think about it. You’re more likely to be receptive to criticism if it comes from a trusted, good friend.

    On the other hand, folks who don’t love each other at all and criticize each other, nothing gets accomplished. It’s like monkeys in trees flinging crap at each other. Just a big, smelly mess.

    People have told Faz that if he puts pictures of himself with specific presidents in his flyers, they won’t buy his pizza.

    “And so I put a flyer together to teach that you have to love everybody, even if you don’t agree with them. To give them good, nutritional food. Maybe they’ll change their mind but they’ll never change their mind if you just say, ‘I hate you.’

    “If you put it in writing, the people should see what is love. It’s powerful, the most powerful thing in life, really.”

    Faz visits schools and talks to the children. He tells them, “You know kids, if you listen to your teacher and behave and focus in your class, I’m going to give you free pizza. It makes the teacher happy, makes kids happy, the kids brag to their parents. It takes a village to raise a kid. Mom and dad can do it and the teacher can do it and the pizza man can to do it too.”

    “Sometime you get into argument, fights. Husband and wives do. But if it’s all in love, then everything falls in place.”

    “I’ve got to go to Arbor Hospice now. A lady called and said, ‘My son loves you and he’s only got a few days to live so would you come and see him?’ If I say nice loving things, it sounds corny, but it’s the main thing happening in this life, truthfully.

    “How can we love everybody and be kind? I’m just a simple old man. Not a rocket scientist, not a genius. If you can be so nice to a little old pizza man each of us can do our best to make this world a better world to live in.”

    Charmie Gholson is a free-lance writer and mother of three living in Ypsilanti. E-mail her at

    Faz’s Chicken Curry

    3 tbsp. oil
    2 onions, sliced
    1 ginger root, chopped
    4 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 tsp. cumin seeds
    8 dried red chillies
    1 tsp. coriander
    1 tsp. lemon juice
    salt (to taste)
    2 cups water
    pinch ground cardamom
    1 chicken, skinned and cut into portions

    Heat oil and fry one onion and chillies until browned. Blend salt, water and remaining ingredients (except chicken) to a smooth paste. Add chicken to pan and fry until browned on all sides. Add blended ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about one hour until chicken is tender and sauce has thickened. Serve with plain rice or bread.

       —Charmie Gholson    Mar. 13 '06 - 07:56AM    #
  8. I met Faz through other friends in the early 70s. Before he returned to India to marry. He invented the “faz” fold over pizza, dabbled in real estate, and insureance, as well as local politics. He always found time for his friends…weddinds were favored, but he did not shy away from visiting hospitals, or funerals either. Always Faz looked for or engineered opportunities to meet celebeties. I also e-mailed Mitch Albom to remind him of the last man at Tiger Stadium, Faz, of course! I have some photos of Faz from a wedding last fall. He was very happy but, not well.

    We won’t need a Ghost whisperer to find him. Faz loved well and is well loved.


       —Cheryl Weber    Mar. 14 '06 - 01:55AM    #
  9. The most humble, un-selfish, caring individual I have met during my years in Ann Arbor. It’s been about 2 years since I graduated but I always knew that if I ever went back to campus I would definitely stop by and say hello to Faz. Thats how much the man meant to me. I got to know him well over those 4 years and I couldn’t agree more with what others have written about him. His words were always genuine and his intentions were always pure. I will never forget him.

       —Sharad Jain    Mar. 14 '06 - 04:05AM    #
  10. i remember faz came into my 5th grade class at dicken and gave us all pizza. but mostly i remember how he stood there and told us everything we ever needed to know to succeed in life. it wasn’t sugar coated but it wasnt harsh or mean. it was real. it was love and respect everyone and hopefully they will love and respect you too. if they dont, dont be angry. they are just trying to find out who they are before they can share themselves with the rest of the world. be kind. never give in to what other people want-they dont know you and probably never really will. never give up. but always be kind. always be loving. always.

       —S.    Mar. 15 '06 - 04:00AM    #
  11. Faz Husain was my uncle. In his memory, we are creating a small website. We are asking people to go to the site and sign the guestbook to “Say Hello to Faz” while he is in heaven smiling down on us. Please sign the guestbook, whether its just to say hello to this dear man, or whether you would like to recall a memory of him. His family is hoping to be able to connect with those who he has touched over the years. Faz Husain was much more than ‘just a pizza guy’. He was a man dear to all our hearts, showing love to all of us. This is just another chance to show how much we love and appreciate him.

       —shehzeen    Mar. 15 '06 - 05:35AM    #
  12. The memorial service for Faz Husain will be held at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School on Thursday, March 23rd at 7:30 p.m. in the Schrieber Auditorium. Pioneer is located at 601 W Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, MI 48103. For online maps, directions, and more information, go to the “Say Hello to Faz” website.

       —Juliew    Mar. 21 '06 - 08:16PM    #
  13. I met Faz soon after moving up to Ann Arbor 6 years ago. His son was in high school at the time and a baseball star on the rise. Faz was talking to me about his doubts regarding the ceiling of a ‘desi’ origin kid in baseball. I played college baseball 11 yrs ago. I’m of ‘desi’ origin. I told him to keep the same attitude, compassion and support about Ali’s desire to play as he does about everything else and God will do what is appropriate.

    Faz was the kind of father we all wish we had. Stern when necessary, but so loving, compassionate and supportive of the well-being and happiness of his children.

    He treated me like family. My wife loved him like family too. The smile, the sincerity and compassion with which he addressed me and my wife was unmatched. I am so deeply saddened by his passing. The world needs more people like him to bring us all together. He was the kind of guy that truly had the perspective that there is no gap that can’t be bridged.

       —Maruf    Mar. 24 '06 - 02:56AM    #
  14. We have truly been blessed to have had FAZ in our lives. I have never encountered a kinder, more honest, and fair friend in my many years.
    God bless his family.
    With LOVE, Rick O.

       —Richard Olmsted    Apr. 4 '06 - 12:29AM    #
  15. Faz was my uncle. Whenever I went to his shop, he would call me back, and we would make pizza. He’s the one that got me interested in cooking. I will always remember him.

       —Mehreen    May. 4 '06 - 01:42AM    #
  16. I met Faz when he first came to America. He and I were birthday buddies as well as very close friends.His passing has left a large hole in my heart and world. All of the tributs that have been paid to him only slightly touch the surface of the kind of wonderful loving man and human being he was. I know I shall see you again my dear friend….I love and miss you so…. Bett

       —Bett    Sep. 6 '06 - 10:56AM    #
  17. There’s a Wikipedia article on Faz Husain .

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Sep. 6 '06 - 07:16PM    #