A Celebration of the Life of Dr. Aref Senno

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WHEN: Saturday, May 11th, 2019. Visitation from 12:30 to 1:30 PM. Memory Sharing will begin at 1:30 PM.

WHERE: Hanging Gardens Banquets 8301 W. Belmont Ave. River Grove, Illinois 60171

The family’s obituary and more information here.

And continue reading for the AAAN’s own tribute to Dr. Senno:

Our Community Physician,  Dr. Aref Senno, passes away

The Arab American Action Network (AAAN) is sad to report that Dr. Aref Senno died of congestive heart failure this past Friday, May 3rd, 2019, at age 84. A community physician in every sense, he was one of the most important figures in the Arab community of Chicagoland.     After studying at the American University of Beirut during the heyday of the Arab Nationalist Movement, Dr. Senno received his medical degree from the University of Dusseldorf in Germany in 1962. He also served his internship and general surgery residency in Germany, and then continued his training in the U.S. in Milwaukee and New York City, where he became a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon. In 1978, he completed a research fellowship in cardiovascular surgery at the Children’s Hospital at Harvard Medical Center in Boston.     In 1979, Dr. Senno founded the Diversey Medical Center Group, and in the mid-2000s, he opened a surgical center and an urgent care center, respectively, on the northside of Chicago, later receiving a humanitarian service award from Mayor Richard M. Daley for his work in under-served communities in the city. 

But besides his brilliance as a medical professional, Dr. Senno was also an extraordinary citizen of the world. I have known him since I was a teenager, as he was the primary care physician for both my parents, and later became best friends with my father; they united and bonded as Arab nationalists and internationalists, spending hours and hours discussing and debating the state of the Arab World and the broader community of Chicagoland and the U.S.   He was a generous donor who established a foundation a decade ago, which helped produce a bi-lingual community magazine, a radio show, and a program to support Arab students who wanted to further their studies in different medical fields.    Dr. Senno told me once that his mother’s dying wish was that he become a “special” doctor, one who serves everyone regardless of means, and that is what he did. Thousands of families were seen by him at the Diversey Medical Center over many decades, and he ultimately made it a point never to take a single cent from those who lacked health insurance. He also wore his politics on his sleeve – always a strong believer in, and advocate for, single payer healthcare, free higher education for all, and a society that prioritizes the needs of the poor and working class masses over the needs of corporations and the rich.   Although a proud product of Lebanon, Dr. Senno never cared what country his patients came from, what religion they practiced, or what ethnicity they were. Saturday and Sunday mornings in his medical center looked like a veritable United Nations, with Arab, Assyrian, African immigrant and African American, Asian, Latinx, South Asian, white, and other patients crammed in his lobby – many without an appointment – waiting to meet the sweet, kind, and gentle doctor that they all respected like he was a member of their own families.  He provided a high standard of care to everyone, and loved all equally. His mother would be proud, because he truly was a special doctor.    Our deepest condolences to Pauline, Dr. Senno’s wife and partner of close to six decades, his four wonderful children, the entire extended Senno family, and the thousands of people he has touched throughout the years. We will miss him dearly.   Hatem Abudayyeh Executive Director, AAAN