Hannah Manassa Habeeb, 95, Watertown

WATERTOWN, NY —  Hannah Manassa Habeeb, 95, of Watertown, died peacefully at her home on Sunday Dec. 6, 2020.

A loving and caring wife, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend, she always put others before herself and made her family a top priority. She was truly a selfless, kind and gentle soul.

She was born Jan. 7, 1925, in Watertown, the daughter of the late George and Victoria Shaffer Manassa. As a first generation Arab American, she took great pride in her family’s roots and customs. She was a devoted Christian who was raised in the Eastern Orthodox faith and attended St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church in Watertown. Throughout her life she also had great respect for the Roman Catholic Church and, in recent years, became a communicant.

Growing up, she helped her parents in the family business, Imperial Restaurant, on LeRay Street in Watertown, which years later, under new ownership, became Dante’s Restaurant. Throughout most of her life, she helped maintain and manage rental property, including later her family homestead on Watertown’s north side.

She was a graduate of Watertown High School.

On July 6, 1947, she married the love of her life, Nagia Habeeb, at Trinity Episcopal Church with Rev. George Katouf of Altoona, PA, and Rev.  George Karim  of St. Elias Church, Syracuse, co-officiating an Eastern Orthodox marriage service. The couple would have their marriage blessed and renew their vows 50 years later at a surprise family celebration put on by their children.

She was a  member of the Watertown Syrian Club and worked as needed at Habeeb Brothers Red and White Store on Mill Street, which her husband co-owned with his brothers, William and Victor.

Hannah would be the first to tell you that her greatest life focus was being a homemaker and mother to their three children,  who were the light of her life. Whether it was cooking their favorite Middle Eastern dish or just being there to offer love and support, she was a constant, never asking or expecting anything in return. When her husband passed on April 3, 2003, leaving her heartbroken, it was that love of family that kept her going.

She is survived by a son, Dr. Edward Habeeb, Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia and his wife Ann; a daughter, Cynthia (Cindy) Habeeb Bufalini of Watertown and husband John Bufalini. She also leaves behind eight grandchildren of whom she was immensely proud, as well as nine great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren. She is also survived by nieces and nephews who affectionately referred to her as “Auntie.”

Among those who preceded her in death in addition to her parents and husband, were a daughter; Yvonne Levos and her husband Jerry; three brothers, Lewis, Frank and Nelson Manassa; a sister-in-law, Mary Manassa and a beloved niece; Diane Manassa O’Connor, who was like a daughter to her.

Hannah was blessed with amazing caregivers over the years as her health deteriorated. Her family is eternally grateful to them, especially Kevan Houghmaster who has been with her seven years and helped make staying in the home she loved possible.

Arrangements are with D.L. Calarco Funeral Home, 135 Keyes Ave., Watertown. In keeping with COVID 19 protocol, there will be no calling hours. A funeral Mass will be said 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec, 10, 2020, at St. Anthony’s Church in Watertown with, longtime family friend, Rev. Michael Gaffney officiating.

For everyone’s safety the mass will be live streamed and available for later viewing at www.dlcalarco.com and going to Mrs. Habeeb’s obituary. While the family encourages attending virtually, anyone choosing to come to the mass is asked to follow safety protocol of wearing a mask and distancing. Burial will follow the ceremony in North Watertown Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Hannah’s memory can be made to  St. Anthony’s Church: 850 Arsenal St., Watertown, NY 13601, Sister of St. Joseph, 1425 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601, Hospice of Jefferson County, 1398 Gotham St., Watertown, NY 13601 or to a charity of one’s choice.

Online condolences may be made at DLCalarco.com.