Love and Grief Drive Charitable Giving

December 18, 2016

Souad Shrime’s life story has all the elements of an epic movie: love, war, flight, resettlement, faith and loss. She was born and grew up in Lebanon, the sixth of seven children.

She was 17 when she met her husband-to-be, George Shrime. He was 30. From Lebanon’s Bekka Valley, he was a gifted engineer with a doctorate from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who had worked for Texas Instruments and become an American citizen. Both Souad and George belonged to the Melkite Catholic Church, part of the ancient Eastern Catholic tradition.

“He was very kind, very smart,” she said. “We were in love.”

The Lebanese civil war erupted in 1975. After a harrowing encounter at a roadblock, violence in Beirut and months living in a small mountain village, the couple and their two young children fled. They landed in Dallas with two suitcases and just enough money to buy a car. Texas Instruments rehired George.

George left TI to start his own business but was facing bankruptcy when his previous patents suddenly became valuable. His company prospered.

In 1995, while George was negotiating the sale of the business, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He died in May 1996 at age 55.

Throughout their lives, Souad said they had worked hard and relied on God for guidance. After George’s death, she felt she should continue the sale of the business with the help of a trusted attorney. The family’s financial advisor, Dallas Foundation Advisory Council Member John Mockovciak, III, also kept in close contact.

“I felt very guided and very protected and very blessed,” she said.

After the business sold, she established a donor-advised fund at The Dallas Foundation. This year, she recommended a gift to Mercy Ships in George’s honor. The charity maintains a small fleet of hospital ships that provide surgery and medical care in developing nations. The couple’s oldest son, Mark, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, volunteers as a physician with Mercy Ships.

Souad was on the Africa Mercy with her son in March as it visited Toamasina, Madagascar. On Easter Sunday, the ship’s crew and volunteers held a reception and accepted a plaque in honor of George Shrime.

Her husband died in the middle of his story, Souad said. She continues it.

“I keep carrying the torch,” she said. “What I want more than anything is to have our kids be responsible for giving, to continue to honor their father.”

For information about Mercy Ships, please visit mercyships.org (http://www.mercyships.org) .

-This story appeared in the October 2016 issue of Letter from Lesley, The Dallas Foundation's e-newsletter for fund holders.