Esther (Howard) Deeb with entertainer Danny Thomas (photo courtesy of her grandson, Robert S Johnson, colorized by the Norwood Historical Society)

Mrs. Esther J. Deeb, Caravan correspondent in Norwood. Mass., was given a testimonial banquet Sunday evening November 4 by parishioners of St. George’s Syrian Orthodox Church of Norwood, in recognition of her long and outstanding leadership and service to the church.

The banquet, attended by over 200 people, was held at Holman Hall in Norwood, and was a complete surprise to Mrs. Deeb, who had just returned from a trip to Florida and Cuba. Approximately 100 additional people who wanted to attend could not do so because of the church hall’s limited capacity.

Mrs. Deeb has been active in church affairs since 1918, and started the first Sunday School of which she is superintendent, in 1936. She is also active in the Red Cross, Community Fund, a member of the Town Meeting, and president of the Women’s Club of St. George.

Samuel Thomas was master of ceremonies for the occasion, and Mrs. Evelyn Thomas sang the National Anthem. Attending the banquet were friends, from Boston, Brockton, Pawtucket and other surrounding towns, as well as the following dignitaries:

Rev. John von Holzhausen, pastor of St. George’s Orthodox Church, Cambridge; Rev. Nicholas Vansuch, pastor of St. George’s Orthodox Church, Boston; Rev. Nifon Abraham, pastor of the Norwood church; George Elias, a teacher in the Norwood public schools; Alec Abdallah, Norwood selectman; Christos Vrianedes, Professor of Music at the Greek Theological Institute in Brookline; Fred Howard, president of the Men’s Society of the church, and Sophie Boulis, president of the Young Girls’ Society at the church.

Following the banquet, a five piece band composed of young graduates of St. George’s Sunday School played a few selections.

Beverly Ferris and Robert Bethoney sang a duet. Rochelle Kadj was pianist for the evening.

Congratulatory telegrams were sent Mrs. Deeb by His Eminence Metropolitan Bashir and Sarah Kelley, one of the first Sunday School teachers, who is now stationed with the armed forces in England. Many other congratulatory messages were received from out-of-towners unable to attend Shaker Solomon of Detroit sent an Arabic poem in Mrs. Deeb’s honor, specially written for the occasion.

Guests attending presented Mrs. Deeb with a beautiful desk. She also received a number of gifts from her many friends and from the Republican Town Committee.

Mrs. Deeb is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Joseph G. Howard, first Syrian settlers in Norwood. Her husband passed away in 1942, and her only son, Frederick, was killed while serving as a Marine corps corporal in 1944, shortly before his twenty-first birthday.

Throughout the war period, Mrs. Deeb corresponded with about 60 servicemen from St. George’s Church, and saw to it that Christmas packages were sent to them annually.

She has five daughters — Dorothy, who lives with her husband, Sgt. Bill Pollock, and three daughters, Elise, Marion and Dorothy in Raleigh, N. C.; Mrs. Ralph Redonnet (Marion) of Belmont, Mass., who is employed at the Bedford Air Force Base; June, a Registered Nurse, widow of the late Robert S. Johnson, who is Director of the Nursing School at the Boston State Hospital in Mattapan, Mass., where her husband was Senior Physician; Barbara, who graduated from Boston University in June, 1955, and is back there now studying on a $1600 scholarship for her Masters in Sociology, and is assigned to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., three days a week; Marcia, who is now a junior at Norwood High.

Mrs. Deeb, a charter member of St. George’s Syrian Ladies Church Society, has held a major office in the organization for 38 years. She is also a past president of the Balch School Parent Teacher Association; past president of the Norwood Women’s Republican Club; past president of the VFW Auxiliary, and has held many other prominent civil and religious positions.