Dr. Zuhair M. ElSaffar, 85, a longtime resident of River Forest, died on Aug. 15, 2020. Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1935, he won a scholarship to study in Britain at the age of 17, and while there obtained a PhD in Physics from University College of North Wales in Bangor.
In the early 1960s he began teaching university-level physics, first at Michigan State University and then at the University of Baghdad. In 1965 he became a researcher in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee, but a year later returned to Iraq to run the country’s civilian nuclear energy program.
In 1968, he moved to Chicago to take a job as a physics professor at DePaul University and conducted research at Argonne National Lab. Two years later he moved to River Forest with his family and remained a River Forest resident for the rest of his life.
In 1977, ElSaffar began investing in real estate in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park. After suffering a stroke and retiring from DePaul in 1987, most of his efforts were devoted to his business activities.
He is survived by his wife, Bushra, five children and two grandchildren. Four of his five children attended Oak Park and River Forest High School. Three of those children — Azhaar, Dena and Amir — grew up to be professional musicians. His daughter Nadia is a makeup artist for British television and movies, and his son Ali is a lawyer who also serves as the Oak Park Township Assessor.
ElSaffar also had two grandchildren, Jamil Moore and Layla Moore.
Burial took place at Valley of Peace, a Muslim cemetery within Arlington/Elm Lawn Cemetery in Elmhurst.