Rose El-Khouri seated beside her husband Joe, who received one of many awards for community service. She was his rock and greatest supporter. At the bridge dedication for Joe, in admiration of Rose El-Khouri, Suzanne VanGorder said, “She is the strengh behind the man.”

JOURNALING: Matriarch of El-Khouri family passes away

    Rose Mary El-Khouri died this week and this community is in mourning for a lady we all loved. She was the perfect example of a dedicated wife and mother whose deep faith guided her life and the life of her family.
    Joe Maroun El-Khouri was the love of Rose’s life. She met him when he traveled from Lebanon, where he was born, to the United States to serve as an attorney-in-fact for his uncle who lived in Minnesota.
    Joe stayed one night on Ellis Island before having his papers processed through the immigration system. After completing his business for his uncle, which had taken several years, he decided to stay in the United States and win the favor of Miss Rose Mary Isaac.
    Rose was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and was the daughter of immigrant parents from Kour Batroun, Lebanon.
    The couple married on June 28, 1950, and in 1955 they moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina with the first three of their seven children: George, Theresa, Mariam, Marsha, Barbara, Catherine and Anthony.
     Rose and Joe were in the grocery store business for five years, and together they made the decision to move to Andrews in partnership with “Jabaley’s,” a clothing store on Main Street. In 1965 the El-Khouri’s bought out Jabaley’s and changed the name to Khouri’s Department Store.
    Although Joe El-Khouri was involved in many facets of volunteer work and community service whose recognitions were many, Rose was his greatest support. As the old saying goes, “Behind every successful man, is a women,” and it was certainly true with the El-Khouris.
    At the bridge dedication for Joe in 2014 in memory of his life, Suzanne VanGorder expressed her admiration for Rose El-Khouri and said, “She was the strength behind the man,”
    And by all accounts, she was the strength behind the seven El-Khouri children as well, who have all been model citizens in this community with successful careers.
    Rose continued to be by her husband’s side for over sixty years until his death on July 22, 2012. We will miss her smiling face and her wonderful laughter, but will never forget her love and service. “Don’t weep for me, Rose would have said, for I have taken my place, beside the man that I have loved, in the light of God’s own grace.”
    Kandy Barnard is a Journaling columnist for the Andrews Journal. To reminisce about growing up in the valley, call her at 361-3268 or email

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