Dr. Rosa Lee Nemir was my mother’s cousin who we children called Auntie Rosa Lee. Rosa Lee Nemir Audi was a pulmonary specialist and a pediatrician. For over sixty years, she worked as a doctor, teacher and researcher. She was among the first American women to become a full professor of pediatrics. Dr. Nemir promoted medical careers for women as president of the American Medical Women's Association.
After my mother, Lily Badre, passed away, I came across handwritten notes she gave
during the 1989 Nemir Family Reunion in Atlanta honoring Aunt Rosa Lee on her eighty-fourth birthday. At that time, our family had been in our beloved new country for twenty-nine years.
Here’s what my mother said:
Twenty-nine years ago, today, we left the Beirut harbor to emigrate to the U.S. I want to tell you about my very first meeting with Rosa Lee upon our arrival.
After two hectic weeks on the high seas, we finally disembarked at the N.Y. harbor. I arrived at the dock with our five children, ages two-and-a-half to eighteen, with five-year old Leila running a high fever, and with thirty pieces of luggage, including two barrels of china and six steamer trunks, one of which had burst open when dumped by the porters on the hard floor of the dock spilling out the carefully packed linens. At this awkward moment who should arrive to meet us but cousin Rosa Lee! She was accompanied by my sister Eva.
I began to panic as you might well imagine. But in no time Rosa Lee had taken charge of
the situation. She gave the porters a piece of her mind in no uncertain terms, and them
hopping putting everything back together again.
Rosa Lee was to come to our help again and again during those difficult first years of
adjustment which we spent in Albany, N.Y. With Albert (her husband) away in the
Congo working for the U.N. as their chief economist, the children and I were able to
make it only because Rosa Lee and E.J. (Rosa Lee’s husband) and their wonderful family
became for us all the cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents that we had left
behind in Lebanon. Seven Monroe Place (the Audi’s house in Brooklyn Heights) and
Central Valley (Their country mountain house, fifty miles north of NYC) became for us
When two years after our arrival, I had to go back to Beirut, while Albert was still in the
Congo, Rosa Lee, despite a very busy schedule, made a special effort and went to attend
Sami’s graduation from college in place of two parents. Later when Ramsey, our second
son, had his car accident in upper New York, while we were vacationing in California,
and was taken to the hospital, Rosa Lee was there. And when Nasib, our third son,
wanted to move to NYC to find a job after graduating from college, where did he stay but
at Rosa Lee’s, and when he and Barbara decided to get married, they held their wedding
in Rosa Lee’s beautiful home in Brooklyn Heights.
(Then addressing my son, she continued) David, these warm family ties, my dear
grandson, you must always remember and pass on, as must all of you of that same young
Who of us here has not spent at least one night at 7 Monroe Place? I confess that we took
full advantage of Rosa Lee and E.J.’s open house and open hearts.
Rosa Lee, your hospitality, your generosity, your genuine concern and compassion for
friends and relatives, and the energetic promptness with which you always responded to
the needs of any family members who ever called on you---these rare qualities are
attested to, not only by me, but by many others in this room.
God bless you my dearest cousin.