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
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