Saipan-- Marianas Variety's founding publisher, Abed E. Younis, passed away Saturday morning peacefully at home, from natural causes, surrounded by his family. He was 83.
Mr. Younis was born and raised on April 29, 1936 in the village of Ara in Central Israel, where his clan had lived and worked for hundreds of years. He studied at the Bet Salel Academy of Arts and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and spoke Arabic, Hebrew and English.
In 1970, while employed by the National Television Station of Israel, he was awarded a scholarship grant to travel to Japan, where he visited universities and worked with educators in the field of graphics and animation. From Japan, he went to Guam and then to Saipan.
He said it was the warmth of the locals that convinced him to stay in the Northern Marianas. He later opened his art studio in Susupe.
In 1972, he took over a local newspaper called Marianas Star, which was founded by former Peace Corps volunteers and changed its name to Marianas Variety. MV’s office was located in Chalan Kanoa before moving to Oleai/San Jose in 1974. In 1981, the newspaper opened its two-story building Garapan, where it has since been operating.
Unlike most of its competitors, MV was not only focused on NMI news; it also covered the news on Guam and in the other districts of the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands: Palau, the Marshall Islands, and what is now known as the Federated States of Micronesia — Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap.
Through good and bad times, Mr. Younis’s independent newspaper has provided, and continues to provide, the latest news and views about the Micronesian/Pacific region.
In 2012, Mr. Younis opened Caravan of Food next to the Variety building. It is the only restaurant on island that serves authentic Mediterranean cuisine.
In 2014, he received an award from the CNMI for his lifetime achievement in the humanities.
He is survived by his former wife Maria Paz Tudela Castro, their children Banny, Laila, Amier, Farah and Salam, and 12 grandchildren.
CNMI Gov. Rap Torres and Lt. Gov. Palacios issued the following statement.
"We join the Marianas in mourning the passing of an icon and innovator in the Pacific, Abed E. Younis.
"We extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to the Younis family and all the past and present staff of the oldest newspaper in the NMI, Marianas Variety.
"Under Mr. Younis’ leadership, Marianas Variety has been at the forefront of journalism and public information for the CNMI and Micronesia. He created the first platform in the Western Pacific for important news and information from around the Marianas and around the world for almost 50 years.
"He has employed hardworking and dedicated people over the years and continued to do so, increasing our local capacity and inspiring the next generation of journalists, communications directors, and public information officers.
"In his later years, Mr. Younis opened up the popular Caravan of Food, a Mediterranean-style restaurant, so that he can share the flavors from his birthplace in Israel with the community he loved and called home.
"His passion and dedication to the people of the Marianas serve as an inspiration to all of us who looked up to him. We thank him for his service, and we will continue to ensure his legacy lives on within our closely knit Commonwealth."