Dr. Elias Saadi 1932-2023

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LIBERTY TOWNSHIP — Elias Saadi, MD, was a great good man who died naturally on Monday afternoon, April 17, 2023, surrounded by the immense and loving family of which he was both the spiritual and ethical center during his 90 years of life.

He was the husband to Peggy; father to Elias, Phillip, George, Joseph, Margaret and Edward; grandfather to Carmen, Isaac, Dominic, George, Victoria, Grace, Elias, James, Francis and Michel; and father-in-law to Gina, Wayne, Michele and Kerri; Elias lives forever in them.

Elias was a renowned cardiologist whose enduring legacy stems equally from a visionary career in medicine as well as from lifelong heroic efforts in pursuit of the righteous cause of a free Lebanon.

Born in 1932, in Youngstown, as a first-generation, only child of Tufic and Victoria, both of Bejje, Lebanon. Elias received degrees from Youngstown State University and Georgetown University School of Medicine, and trained at St. Elizabeth Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic.

As a young physician, Elias assembled and implemented Ohio’s first portable cardiac defibrillator, which was a then-unknown technique. It earned him a reputation as the doctor who “brings men back to life,” which was a source of amusement to Elias throughout his life. For 42 years, he contributed to the development of cardiac catheterization and balloon angioplasty, participated in the earliest attempts to perform cardiac bypass surgery in Ohio, and, in 1986, founded the Ohio Heart Institute, one of the first free-standing cardiovascular care centers in the country. As both Chief of Cardiology and Chief of Medicine, Elias established the cardiovascular lab at St. Elizabeth’s, where he performed countless cardiac procedures. He retired from the practice of medicine in 1999, yet continued to educate and mentor until the day he died.

Elias fought tirelessly for peace, freedom, and democracy in Lebanon. In response to the eruption of the Lebanese conflict in 1974, he founded the American Lebanese League (A.L.L.).

Its purpose was to bring Lebanon’s goals for sovereignty to the highest levels of the United States government, and he succeeded. Under his leadership, A.L.L. exerted overwhelming pressure on the White House to effect policy change in the direction of decisive action supporting the right of the people of Lebanon to live in a free state. Described by news outlets at the time as, “the second most influential foreign policy lobby in Washington,” Elias was its guiding light. He was decorated as a Knight of the Order of the Cedar, one of Lebanon’s highest civilian honors.

In 1978, Dr. Saadi joined President Jimmy Carter in planting a Cedar of Lebanon in the South Lawn of the White House, where it remains to this day. Elias traveled to Lebanon countless times on humanitarian and political missions, often at great personal peril. In 2002, when asked by the House Committee on International Relations to testify at a hearing on the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, his brilliant and emotional testimony — personalized with references to his own experience of the birthplace of his mother and father — was credited by many with turning the tide of Congress in favor of that legislation. A cardiologist to his core, he won their votes by appealing to their hearts. The Act became law in 2003, and contributed, ultimately, to Lebanon’s liberation from Syrian occupation.

“Of course, not one of these accomplishments would have been possible without equal dedication from Peggy Abraham, his wife of 63 years. Elias, you exemplified the best this world has to offer, and fought against the worst. In all things, you did no harm, and the world is a duller place without your light shining upon it.”

Family and friends may pay their respects from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 21, 2023, and again from 9 until 9:50 a.m. Saturday morning, April 22, 2023, all at St. Maron Maronite Catholic Church, 1555 S. Meridian Road, Youngstown.

A Divine Liturgy of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 22, 2023, at St. Maron Maronite Catholic Church, Youngstown, with the Rev. Tony Massad as officiant. The funeral will also be livestreamed on St. Maron’s Facebook page for those who are unable to attend the services in person.

Burial will take place in Calvary Cemetery, Youngstown.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the professional care of the Rossi & Santucci Funeral Home, 4221 Market St., Boardman.

To watch a video about Elias’s rich life, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ucs86SXOb0M

Family and friends may visit www.rossisantuccifh.com to view this obituary and send condolences to Elias’ family.

Donations in Elias’ name can be made to the Knights of St. Maron Fund, c/o St. Maron Parish, 1555 S. Meridian Road, Youngstown, OH 44511 or at https://secure.myvanco.com/L-Z2SJ/campaign/C-11WNN

(special notice)