Engda Desta

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Mr. Engda Desta was a deeply devoted father, grandfather, family man and loving husband. He worked for the United Nations for almost his entire adult life, traveling the world and working from remote places. He was accomplished in his profession and respected among his peers and colleagues for his work ethic, hardworking nature and drive.

Mr. Desta passed away on November 9, 2018 at the age of 75.

From very humble beginnings in his birth place of Assebe Teferri in Ethiopia, Gash Engda was mostly raised by his mother, Emayohe Mulunesh Dejene – as his father died when he was very young. Gash Engda grew up with very little in terms of material possessions but was surrounded by the love of his mother. Gash Engda excelled in school, earning top marks of exams. He later graduated from Commerce School in Addis Ababa and began his professional career with Ethiopian Airlines.

Soon after, he received a scholarship to attend US-based university via his employer and came to New York City where he attended Wagner College for his undergraduate degree and an MBA from Long Island University. He fell in love with New York City, it has forever been a place that he found himself gravitated to as second home. He formed life-long friendships and found and developed a passion for cooking and later found employment with the United Nations. His first deployment was in Cairo, Egypt.

In Cairo, he met his future father-in-law, a diplomat posted with the Ethiopian Embassy who introduced him to his daughter. He formed new friendships, most importantly met his wife, Almaz, there.

After a couple of years of courtship, they married in a small ceremony in Zambia and had their first child soon after. Ermias Desta, their first born was born in Israel and year later had a sister, Selamawit, who was also born in Israel. Soon after, Gash Engda was posted to Nairobi, Kenya – a place where he and his entire family would call and consider home. In Kenya, Engda and Almaz welcomed another son, Samuel, and developed deep roots and ties. While Gash Engda worked and was posted in many countries over the years – Namibia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Rwanda – the family base and where he and his wife chose to raise their children was Kenya.

Gash Engda had a full and beautiful life and will be deeply missed. He was deeply kind, wise, loving, fair and generous in every way. He taught his children the values of hard work, diligence, honesty and treating people with fairness and compassion. His children and many other touched by his love have been guided, by his example, to be better parents and partners to those they love. He was angel on earth and is resting in peace.

He is survived by his wife, Almaz; his three biological children, Ermias, Selamawit and Samuel; his daughters and son-in-law, who he loved and treated as his own children, Haddis, Senait and Aida and his five grandchildren, Saba, Tsehai, Liya, Yared and Ezana.

Gash Engda often told his children in difficult times – ‘hulum neger ye alfal’ ‘everything passes/nothing stays constant’ – a reminder that pain is temporary. We remember his words and his wisdom to help us in this difficult time of saying goodbye to his physical form and show our thanks to God for giving us this wonderful man.

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