Sami Khatib Suleiman, 58, a certified public accountant who specialized in tax work for foreigners living in the United States and for U.S. citizens living abroad and who worked with numerous organizations to nurture multicultural understanding and respect, died of leukemia June 23 at his home in Bethesda.
Mr. Suleiman was born in El Bireh, Palestine. He contracted polio at age 11 and walked with braces and a cane for much of his life, serving as an example of courage conquering adversity.
After graduating from the University of Jordan with a degree in economics and business administration, he immigrated to Boston in 1969.
He attended graduate school at Tufts University and worked at the Worcester Knitting Co. While serving as business manager for the Education Development Center in Newton, Mass., he received a Rockefeller Scholarship to work on a master's degree from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
He worked summers at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York and in Europe.
He received an MBA in 1979 and joined Arthur Young & Co. in New York City as an accountant. He moved to the District in 1980 to become chief financial officer for the International Food Policy Research Institute, a sister organization to the World Bank.
Mr. Suleiman established a business in 1983. As a financial planner, he provided his clients, many of them first-generation U.S. citizens, with advice on taxes, savings and investments and preparing for homeownership, education and retirement. He was a popular guest on Arab TV and radio and wrote articles on financial planning and market analysis. He also offered advice to numerous nonprofit organizations on financial planning, organizational structure, accounting and taxes.
Throughout his life he worked to build understanding between Americans and Palestinians and to promote peace in the Middle East. He helped organize the first evening of Palestinian culture on Capitol Hill and was co-owner of a film company showing Arabic-language films.
After Sept. 11, 2001, he organized joint activities between the Islamic Weekend School and the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. He also arranged for an interfaith production of "Nathan the Wise," Gotthold Lessing's play about tolerance among Jews, Christians and Muslims set in 12th-century Jerusalem.
Mr. Suleiman was an active member and leader in a number of Arab American organizations, including the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Association of Arab American University Graduates, the Maryland Arab American Committee, the Islamic Weekend School and Al-Hewar Center.
He also worked with diversity committees at his children's high schools, Georgetown Day School and Sidwell Friends School.
Survivors include his wife of 21 years, Penelope Mitchell of Bethesda; two children, Nura Suleiman and Ramy Charles Suleiman, both of Bethesda; his mother, Hasna Khatib of Boston and El Bireh; a brother; and a sister.