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DSA In the News

Hundreds remember former San Carlos mayor at memorial

Published on 5/14/2011

Hundreds of politicians and friends of former San Carlos Mayor Omar Ahmad filled the Hiller Aviation Museum Friday afternoon to mourn his sudden passing Tuesday morning.

Ahmad, 46, was taken to Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City after calling 911 from his home, and he was pronounced dead of a heart attack when he arrived at the medical center.

A table stood at the rear of the museum with dozens of letters fanned across it, each of them expressing shock and sadness over Ahmad’s death. Contributors included Sen. Barbara Boxer, Millbrae Councilwoman Marge Colapietro, Burlingame Mayor Terry Nagel and Atherton Mayor James Dobbie.

A picture of Ahmad was also on the table with three-can pyramids of Coke Zero on either side of it.

“His favorite drink was Coke Zero and Starbucks coffee,” said Eli Kouichi Shirayanagi, who worked alongside Ahmad.

Shirayanagi wore a Hawaiian shirt to Friday afternoon’s memorial because he said it was a common outfit of Ahmad’s.

“He would always come to work in a Hawaiian shirt and blue jeans, carrying a Starbucks coffee,” he said. “All I’m missing is the coffee.”

The event began with a Pledge of Allegiance and salute from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Honor Guard. Friends and family then each gave brief words of condolences and shared stories. Ahmad’s younger sister, Fataima, struggled to explain her first memory with Ahmad in Boston.

She said she was about 2 1/2 years old and she was standing outside in the snow with Ahmad.

“He knew I was scared, and he knew I didn’t know how to walk,” she said, her voice quivering.

She said Ahmad, who was 6 1/2 at the time, carried her on his back so she would not have to touch the snow.

“And I remember him saying, ‘Don’t be afraid,’” she said.

Other attendees shared humorous anecdotes about Ahmad. His friend Noman, whose child Ahmad was the godfather of, had the audience laughing over common phrases Ahmad was known to say.

According to Noman, the phrases included, “Salam, sir,” “We have the technology,” “Hey toots,” “Hiya stud,” “Welcome to the ozone,” and, “Go Gators.”

“We love him. We miss him, and we know he’s with God saying, ‘Salam, sir,’ and ‘Go Gators,’” Noman said.

Several mourners touched on Ahmad’s love for the Florida Gators, which comprise basketball, football, and other teams at the University of Florida. Ahmad was apparently known by attendees to shout “Go Gators” at inappropriate times. A Gators logo made out of blue and orange carnations was at the front of the museum near the podium.

Friends of Ahmad’s also highlighted his love of science and talked about his participation in the National Youth Science Camp when he was in high school.

The memorial program read, “In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Omar’s memory to the National Youth Science Foundation ( to support its National Youth Science Camp, which Omar attended as a high school student and was actively involved with as an alumnus.