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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Obituary: Rizk, Fereh G.

Fereh G.

Fereh G. Rizk, 82, died peacefully Feb.7, 2016, at Rockwood Retirement Community in Spokane.

He was born March 17, 1933, in the village of Naqalifa in Faiyum, Egypt, and grew up in a mud brick house that was hundreds of years old.
His father died when he was 5, and his mother raised him and his older sister with very little.

Several other older siblings died from illness before he was born, and he often told the story of how he didn’t wear shoes until he was a teenager.

Around that time, he crossed paths with an American, Seventh-day Adventist minister, Neil Wilson, who encouraged and helped him to continue his education.

He became the first in his family to go to college, earning a theology degree from Middle East University in Lebanon.
After college, he returned to Cairo and worked for the Seventh-day Adventist church, where he met his wife, Lea (Halonen) a missionary nurse from Finland.

Church officials asked Fereh to be Lea’s guide while she was vacationing in Cairo, and he showed her all the sites.

When she returned to Nigeria, where she practiced midwifery, they kept in touch through letters.

After several years of writing, they married in 1966 in Cairo.

They lived there for a year before moving to Finland, where Fereh first experience snow and - despite the language barrier - continued to minister for the SDA Church.
Eventually, the language and cold propelled Fereh and Lea to find a place and climate amenable to both, and they landed in Los Angeles, where they spent the second half of their lives and where they had a daughter, Sylvia (Fountaine).

Throughout his life, Fereh - which means “rejoicing” in Egyptian - spread the gospel.

He was warm, engaging and charismatic, and immensely enjoyed preaching at churches of various denominations.

Coming from poverty, he felt tremendous gratitude for all of life’s opportunities and helped those around him create abundance.

A man of generous spirit and deep faith, he felt his life’s purpose was to connect people with God’s love.

He also loved to cook, debate, read history, travel, sing and play Chinese checkers.

Most of all, he loved people and could see beauty in each soul, and made a point of reminding them of this.