Shukri 'Chuck' Shubeta
Shukri “Chuck” Fayek Shubeta, an accomplished ballroom dancer who built a life in the Toledo area after leaving Palestine, died Friday at his Monclova Township home. He was 82.
Mr. Shubeta was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, daughter Gina Shubeta said.
He first learned to dance in Seattle, after he came to the United States in 1957. When Mr. Shubeta moved to Columbia, S.C., to study accounting at the University of South Carolina, his passion for dance grew, and he became an instructor at a Fred Astaire dance studio in town, said Vivian Shubeta, his former wife.
A dancer herself, the two became partners, competing in Fred Astaire dance competitions, and won at national events, she said. Mr. Shubeta had an elegance, a gracefulness, on the dance floor, and he could lead even the most inexperienced dancer and make them look good.
Though his career shifted away from studios, he never really left the dance floor.
“How long did my father dance? Until he was 82 years old,” Gina Shubeta said.
His passion inspired daughter Jennifer Shubeta-Harris, owner and artistic director of Daryl Jervis Dance Studio in Sylvania. Her favorite memory of her father was from last year, when she got to do a father-daughter dance at a recital with him.
“Growing up, our house was filled with their beautiful trophies and my mom's beautiful dance dresses,” she said.
Mr. Shubeta was born Jan. 28, 1936 to Fayek and Mary Shubeita in Jaffa, which was then part of the British Mandate for Palestine. His father was a physician and owned property in the area. Jaffa was occupied by the Haganah — a Jewish paramilitary force — in 1948 and is now part of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
Mr. Shubeta was passionate about Palestinian issues, and took his family to visit in 1979. His children remember different license plates for different ethnicities, and soldiers randomly stopping buses to question passengers. He frequently donated to Palestinian rights and advocacy organizations throughout his life.
He held no ill will toward anyone, though, despite his strong feelings, his family said, and while he was passionate about Palestine, he was immensely proud to become an American citizen in 1970.
The Shubeta family’s path to Toledo was guided by job opportunities. After college, a friend owned several restaurants and bars in the Bellefontaine, Ohio, area, and told Mr. Shubeta he needed help running the businesses. Mr. Shubeta eventually owned his own establishment, Chuck's Dairy Bar, where he added breakfast and lunch hours as well.
Later, another friend advised him that working in the insurance industry could be more financially fruitful, so Mr. Shubeta made the career switch, which eventually brought him to the Toledo area, where he worked as a Nationwide Insurance agent.
Mr. Shubeta was a constant teacher, whether it was how to change a tire or how to learn the foxtrot. He had a natural ability that was hard to describe, daughter Kim Ankenbrandt said.
“One of my regrets is I never asked him how he knew how he could dance,” she said.
His four children remembered family vacations, his intelligence, and his love of art and music. Son Greg Shubeta recalled staying up with his dad and watching old horror movies, while daughter Jennifer remembers sitting on her father’s lap in his Corvette, listening to Paul Simon cassettes. While his homes were modest, he always loved cars, his children said.
He taught his children to think for themselves and make their own choices. And he always knew how to make them feel special.
“"He always made you feel that you were the only one on the dance floor,” Gina Shubeta said.
Mr. Shubeta is survived by children Kim Ankenbrandt, Gina Shubeta, Greg Shubeta, and Jennifer Shubeta-Harris; six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Walker Funeral Home, 5155 Sylvania Ave. A Trisagion service will be at 6:30 p.m. Visitation will continue at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church, 4940 Harroun Rd., Sylvania, where services will begin at 11 a.m.
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