Margaret Ann Shaheen, age 89, beloved by her family, cousins, and friends, passed away on May 20, 2020 in New York City. She was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 29, 1930 to Nicholas H. and Julia (David) Shaheen. After the death of her mother when Margaret was nine, she moved with her father to Canton, Ohio where she and her sisters were supported by their extended family of cousins, uncles, and aunts. Her father owned the locally famous Shaheen Oriental Rug store.
Margaret graduated from Lehman High School in Canton, and then followed her sister Adele to DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. She graduated with a degree in speech and appeared in several student stage productions. After college she acted in regional theater productions in Ohio and upstate New York. She moved to New York City in the 1950s to pursue an acting career. She began teaching in NYC public schools and was hired full-time. She taught in pre-school, and in a special program to promote the arts, for over 30 years.
In New York she had friendships that lasted for decades, and her friends became “the family you choose.” She hosted innumerable dinner parties, for which she cooked Lebanese specialties as well as her famous roast chicken. She kept up with the latest fashions and looked beautiful in everything she wore. When she visited her relatives in Ohio, they were always excited to see what she was wearing.
Margaret loved to travel and visited every continent. She had especially fond memories of her trips to Russia, China, and Australia. She wrote in a letter, “I am convinced the only education is travel. Forget Yale, Harvard etc. Send your children to school in Europe. It will be cheaper and more rewarding.”
She was devoted to the Broadway theater and loved Shakespeare and Eugene O’Neill. She was also a great fan of musical theater, and is especially remembered for her portrayal of Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, in a Canton production. Like her sisters Adele and Joan, later in life she became a sports fan, rooting for “her Knicks” and the NY Yankees.
Margaret was preceded in death by her sisters Adele Freije and Joan Shaheen, and by her brother Nicholas H. Shaheen, Jr. She is survived by her sisters Nadia Swade and Noor Kreit, her brother Nassar Shaheen, 14 nieces and nephews, 13 grand-nieces and nephews, and 20 great-grand nieces and nephews. She was known to them all as “Aunt Bean.”
Margaret was especially generous and kind to her friends. She was beloved for her wit and jolly sense of humor. When there were misunderstandings, she believed it was best to reconcile and say “file and forget it.” When friends got upset, she liked to tell them to “get a grip.” She always stood up for gay rights and supported many friends through the AIDS crisis. She was never a fair-weather friend; when people went through hardships, she was there to help and support them.
She was a role model and inspiration to many people and will never be forgotten.