Sunday, August 24, 2003

They helped build a bridge to Jordan

Indian Hill couple play pivotal role in bringing unique exhibit to America

By Marilyn Bauer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Fred and Ingrid Daoud provided support and influence to bring Petra: The Lost City of Stone to the American Museum of Natural History and to the Cincinnati Art Museum.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/STEVEN M. HERPPICH

It has been called the greatest exhibition of Jordanian artifacts ever mounted, an extraordinary cultural cooperation that for the first time unites Jordan with the United States. When Petra: The Lost City of Stone opens at the American Museum of Natural History in October, it will be an Indian Hill couple who is largely responsible for the groundbreaking event.

Doctors Fuheid "Fred" and Ingrid Daoud provided the seed money and influence that crossed oceans of culture, religion and parliamentary paperwork to bring the story of the ancient metropolis to New York and to the Cincinnati Art Museum in September 2004. Other museums are maneuvering to get the exhibit, but no other sites currently are scheduled.

"The Petra project would not have happened without the Daouds," says the Cincinnati Art Museum's Glenn Markoe, creator and co-curator of the exhibition. "Their money allowed us to take trips to Jordan to continue planning and their moral support and interest over the nine years the show was 'in the making' were invaluable."

"Since I and my brothers come from Jordan, we thought this was a great opportunity," says Fred. "My brother, who was a member of parliament, helped the party from Cincinnati make the right connections in the palace and the ministry."

It's hard to imagine a more dapper man than cardiologist Fred Daoud. Standing in the library of his office complex filled with Impressionistic and Abstract art, he is a wellspring of energy and humor.

A man with a radiant smile and razor sharp mind, he walks through Montgomery's Cardiology Center pointing out paintings by his beloved Paul Chidlaw and beautiful little landscape jewels by Charles Meurer, both Cincinnati artists, Chidlaw 20th century and Meurer 19th.

There's an oil portrait of Fred on one of the library's paneled walls. "My partners gave it to me," he says with a laugh and the ever-present twinkle in his eye. "I think they thought they would get rid of me. That I would retire. But I say never."

Never seems probable.

Daoud grew up in Fuhais, Jordan, along with 11 brothers and sisters in a two-room home. He still misses the sense of family at the root of his culture and the comfort one receives from generational roots.

"I love the hospitality of Jordanians. The uncomplicated, simple lifestyle and attitude and the tribal ethics," he says. "I grew up in this tribal environment where there is a great attachment to the family. Life

becomes a little bit hectic when you move out of this simple laid-back home life to the big city."

That certainly held true for Daoud. At 19 in 1951, he moved to the United States with his brother, Basheer, now part owner of Gold Star Chili.

"My first fright was when I got off the ship," he remembers. "We ended up in a small run-down hotel in the New York harbor. We walked into the lobby and asked if there was a room. There on a table was this box and it was talking to me. That was television! In the village where I grew up, there were only about 2,500 people and only one radio. You can imagine what kind of cultural trauma that was for me."

The boys had come to New York under the sponsorship of an uncle who lived in Cincinnati, where the two would attend the University of Cincinnati.

"We were here primarily to study because there was no university in Jordan," he says. "The only university close by was the American University in Beirut and we didn't have the finances to go there."

Land of opportunity

With the exception of a two-year stint in the U.S. Army and 10 years in Lexington, Daoud has lived in Cincinnati ever since. He graduated from UC in 1956.

"I was fortunate to come to the U.S. and to participate in the culture and the democracy and the opportunities the U.S. affords its citizens," he says. "The U.S. also gave me the opportunity to see Europe - as a solider. But as a result I had the opportunity to study in Germany and come back to this country to pursue a career."

It was on the first day of medical school at the University of Heidelberg in 1958 that Fred met his beautiful, blond and high-spirited, Czech-German wife.

"She was standing behind me in a line waiting for the anatomy professor to assign us a part of the cadaver for dissection," he says. "We had to have a team of two, so she asked me if I would go to the professor and get our assignment. I had just gotten out of the Army and didn't know German. I came back to Ingrid, red in the face. She asked me what part we had and I said I didn't understand a word the professor said."

He says it was love at first sight. She says their friendship grew.

"We took the course together and we talked," Ingrid says. "It kind of grew slowly. We got engaged. My parents weren't too happy. His family wasn't too happy. I think it kind of fired us up to keep the commitment." They married when they finished medical school in 1963.

Fred took Ingrid to Jordan to meet his parents and she was taken with the country he called home. "It was amazing - ruins with shepherds," she says. "There were wine cellars and an old church. Fred's father was a real intellectual. He would point somewhere and say, 'This is where Jesus did such and such.' It was very spiritual."

The Daouds have been married for 39 years. Ingrid is a retired pediatrician and the couple has three children: Natasha, 36, a photographer; Katja, 34, an internist in Portland, Ore.; and Jamal, 32, who is in financial management in Cincinnati. Natasha is married with two children, and the Daouds are doting grandparents.

Art part of his life

Fred says art has been part of his life since childhood.

"My father was interested in tapestries which he would buy and hang in our two-room house," he says.

"When Ingrid and I relocated to Lexington, we bought a little house and there was a big fireplace and I wanted something over the fireplace. We went to an auction and bought a black-and-white painting of a torero. We were driving a Volkswagen Beetle and there was no room for it. Ingrid was in the passenger side and I was driving and we put the painting on the roof and each of us held on to it with our hands out the window. Since then we have both been interested in art."

Fred loves 19th and early 20th-century Cincinnati painters, while Ingrid is more interested in contemporary art. The couple is active in the Cincinnati art community. Fred is on the board of trustees of the Cincinnati Art Museum, where Ingrid became a docent after retiring from her practice with Cincinnati Pediatric Associates in 2000.

"I was invited to join the board of trustees by Nancy Coith," says Fred. "She knew I was interested in art because her son was a partner of mine and whenever she came into the office she looked around.

"Once when she was visiting our home - I had three small Chidlaws - she looked at one of the paintings and said 'Oh, isn't that beautiful?' In our custom, if you say to me, 'I love your tie,' I must take it off and give it to you. So I offered the painting to her, and she took it."

Fred has served on the board of trustees for seven years and the acquisition committee for four years, three of those as chairman.

"The most important thing about Dr. Daoud, and the reason he has been so helpful to this institution, is that he is passionate about art," says Cincinnati Art Museum Director Timothy Rub. "Fred is an avid collector, which is wonderful because he understands how significant it is for us to continue to strengthen the museum's collection. And he is enormously curious and eager to learn about art from different places and periods. As such, Fred is a godsend as the chairman of our acquisitions committee."

Ingrid had plans to lead a group of Cincinnatians to Petra to see the rose-colored glory of the ancient civilization. With continued problems in the Middle East, the dozen or so travelers requested a reschedule, which will happen later this year.

"I find it amazing, how much there is in Jordan," she says. "I can't wait to go back."


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