Devoted husband and father, brother, friend, military officer, optimist, life of the party. Born June 22, 1943, in Peshawar, Pakistan, died Jan. 10, 2013, in Mississauga, of pneumonia exacerbated by pulmonary fibrosis, aged 69.
Faheem Ataullah-Jan developed his love of sports while studying at Burn Hall, a prestigious boarding school in Pakistan. He enjoyed summer holidays at the family cottage in the mountains playing cricket with his cousins and friends, and hiking with his beloved German shepherd dogs. Even then, he was the life of the party, nicknamed Elvis Presley for dressing like his idol, amusing his friends by pretending to play guitar with a tennis racquet. He also loved Gene Vincent’s Bluejean Bop and Be-Bop-A-Lula.
At age 17, tragedy hit. His father died in an air crash, devastating Faheem and the family. Soon after, he joined the Pakistan Military Academy, and after a gruelling three years of training, emerged a polished, promising young officer. He joined the Guides Cavalry, an elite unit of the Armoured Corps. A born leader, Faheem advanced to Tank Squadron Commander.
In 1970 he met the love of his life, Najma Hasnain, during her visit to Pakistan from Canada. They married that year and went on to have two daughters, Sabrina and Syra, his prides and joys. Faheem and Najma’s epic love story spanned 42 years.
After retiring as a major from the Pakistani military, Faheem and the family emigrated to Canada in 1980. He embraced his new life with enthusiasm, prepared to do whatever was required to reinvent himself. After stints selling cash registers, coffee machines and computers, he landed a job representing a medical supply company. Soon after, he started his own wholesale watch business, Time and Time Again, which he managed until last December, despite deteriorating health.
Faheem played as hard as he worked. He loved to entertain, and was always the last to leave the dance floor – and the party (sometimes only when Najma dragged him out). He arranged New Year’s Eve and costume parties (often winning first prize), picnics and cricket events. His love of cricket led Faheem to form the Renegades Cricket Fraternity, a team of die-hard cricketers of varied ages in the Greater Toronto Area.
As captain, he attended weekly practices and league games without fail, followed by mandatory drinks where conversation flowed and bonds strengthened. His need for portable oxygen did not deter him from playing – he merely ensured the oxygen tube was long enough to enable him to bowl. (A cricket tournament is being planned in Faheem’s name in late August.)
Despite being neither British nor Christian, Faheem was invited to join the Imperial Officers Association of Canada, an association of retired British military officers, where he served on the executive and as president (the only non-Caucasian to have the honour). He was also a founder and president of the Pakistan Armed Forces Association Canada and co-chair and director of the Canada Pakistan Business Council.
Wherever he went and whomever he met, Faheem left a lasting impression with his charm, gift of the gab and the ability to make people laugh. Never afraid to shed a tear (of course excusing it as “allergies”), Faheem lived his life as an officer and a gentleman to the fullest.
His spirit lives on in all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Sabrina, Syra and Najma are Faheem’s daughters and wife.
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Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named one of the authors as Syrah. This version has been corrected.