Gilroy Today 2013 03 Spring - Page 27

If a title hung over Hamdy Abbass’ life it would read, “Living the true American dream.” Everyone has a story… meet Hamdy Abbass By Kelly Barbazette Nearly 34 years after arriving to the Bay Area from Egypt, Hamdy Abbass has worked hard to secure a fulfilling life – professionally and personally - in the city that he loves. Born in Egypt, in the Valley of the Kings, Abbass recalls touring Europe every summer as a young college student. “I tasted the freedom — the freedom to express or do whatever you want. I heard that in America it was even better,” Abbass, 59, said. After graduating from college with a degree in plant pathology, he told his college girlfriend, Magda that he was going to America. True to his word, Abbass at age 25 hopped on a plane at the end of his four-year stint in the Egyptian military. He found himself in what seemed like another world. It was 1979 in San Francisco - the same year the King Tut exhibit had arrived at the De Young Museum. The first weekend Abbass spent in San Francisco, he recalls walking around Market Street, where he came across a street festival. Abbass remembers enjoying the festival when a passerby asked him if he knew what was going on. “I said it’s a festival. And he said this is Gay Freedom Day. This is when I realized what a wonderful city San Francisco is. It is an accommodating city. I still love San Francisco. It was a culture shock for a young man from the east. It opened my eyes that you respect people for who they are. I have valued that ever since.” Abbass worked for Kay Jewelers for seven years. During that time, he married his college sweetheart, Magda, who had arrived in the U.S. two years after him. They have two daughters, Heidi, 27, and Emaan, 26. After living in San Diego for a few years, the young family settled in Hollister and Abbass accepted a job with Prudential in Gilroy. “I thought it would last me six months,” Abbass said. “But I loved it so much and I enjoyed helping people protect their most valuable assets and I’ve been here since.” This year marks 26 years that Abbass has been with the company. He has won every award the industry has to offer. He and Magda celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day this year. Magda, 57, works as a lab technician at Gavilan College. Both daughters live at home. Heidi is preparing to take the bar after returning home from Egypt. She started a non-profit group to help young Egyptians and Americans living in Egypt Continued on page 39 S P R I N G 2 0 1 3 G I L R O Y T O D A Y 27