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Home : Obituaries : Current Obituaries
11/15/2013 4:23:00 PM
PSU leaders die in car accident in Uruguay

Dirce Moroni Toulan, a parishioner at St. Michael the Archangel Church, and her husband Dr. Nohad Toulan were killed in a car accident in Uruguay on Oct. 28.

Nohad, 81, was the founder and retired director of Portland State University's College of Urban and Public Affairs, where he taught city planning for 30 years.

The couple was vacationing near Punta del Este in Uruguay.

A devout Muslim, Nohad faithfully dropped off and picked up Dirce, 78, from Mass every Sunday. While she and the children were at church, he would cross the street and spend time at his office at PSU.

“They both believed deeply that Muslims and Christians could and should, as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God, be able to get along being thankful for what they had in common,” said Father Jim Mayo, pastor of St. Michael’s.

Imam Michael Shabbazz led a funeral for Nohad, and Father Mayo celebrated a funeral Mass at St. Michael’s for Dirce. Civic, state, and city leaders, PSU colleagues, and family gathered for a service at the Portland Art Museum Nov. 11. Nohad and Dirce were buried side by side at Riverview Cemetery.

Portland State University will host a public memorial in honor of the couple from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the Smith Memorial Center ballroom.

A native of Egypt, Nohad grew up in Cairo and Alexandria. He received a degree in architecture from the University of Cairo, a master’s degree in city planning from University of California-Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1965. It was during his time at University of Pennsylvania that Nohad met Dirce, a Fulbright Scholar from Rosario, Argentina. In 1964, Dirce and Nohad married while still completing their studies — she a master's degree in city planning and he a Ph.D.

After her graduation in 1964, Dirce worked as a planner for the City of Camden while Nohad completed his Ph.D.

Nohad was an internationally recognized urban planner who contributed extensively to the development of major urban and regional plans in the U.S. and the Middle East. He had been an adviser to the United Nations Development Program and to local and foreign governments on development issues. He was a member of the Columbia Region Association of Governments committee that drafted the Portland Urban Growth Boundary and has served on and chaired numerous task forces for the city of Portland. In 1965, he became the first planning director of the Greater Cairo Region and he is the author of many of the concepts that continue to shape policy in that growing region. In 1984-‘85, while on a 20-month leave of absence from PSU, he directed the preparation of a comprehensive regional plan for the Holy City of Mecca.

Nohad came to PSU from Columbia University in 1972 as the director of the Urban Studies Program. He led the expansion of disciplines that culminated in the creation of the College of Urban and Public Affairs. He served as the college's first and founding dean from 1976 until his retirement in 2004.

Dirce was an architect and planner who received her first degree from the University of Rosario in Argentina. At 27, she was named a Fulbright Scholar and moved to Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania. Following their move to Portland, Dirce became heavily involved at both PSU and the broader Portland community. She led the effort to support the College of Urban and Public Affairs’ library, which is now named the Dirce Moroni Toulan Library.

In January the couple would have celebrated their 50th anniversary.

“They had become one as the Church envisions happening with couples in marital love,” Father Mayo said.

They are survived by their children Mariam and Omar Toulan; son-in-law, Manfred Kuerten; brother, Dr. Jorge Moroni; sister, Heba Toulan; and nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations can be made to the Nohad and Dirce Toulan Endowed Scholarship by visiting the Portland State University Foundation website: www.foundation.pdx.edu/publicgift/toulan_memorial.jsp.

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