HALLOWELL — Friends and relatives paid loving tribute Saturday to the late Dawn Habash, who had showed them, in part by her words but mostly by example, how to live and love with courage.

Habash died while trekking in Nepal, killed by a massive April 25, 2015, earthquake that devastated the country and killed more than 8,000 people.

Habash grew up in Gardiner and lived in Augusta as an adult. She taught yoga, aerobics, meditation, belly dancing and more. More than 100 people gathered on Saturday in the auditorium at Hallowell City Hall for a celebration of her life.

“You were joyful, generous, radiant, loving, loyal, spiritual, intelligent and hardworking,” said her mother, Judy Shane-Thomas, reading from a letter. “I miss your calls, every morning. I talk to you all the time. I miss you all the time. Soar with the angels, my cherished daughter.”

Habash, a frequent world traveler, had been in Nepal, a country family members said she especially loved, for about five weeks when she decided that she would hike on April 25 from the village of Kayanjin to higher peaks, on Kayanjin Ri, that day and eventually travel down the valley to the village of Langtang.

Before she could make that hike, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked the region, killing more than 8,000 and triggering an avalanche that erased Langtang, a village of 400 that was popular with trekkers, from the face of the Earth.

Dawn Habash’s daughter, Yasmine, son Khaled, and brother Randy Dick returned on Monday from Nepal, where they had trekked on the anniversary of the day Dawn Habash is believed to have died, hiking along the path she is known to have taken.

Khaled Habash, of Portland, said Saturday it snowed the night before their hike, which is rare so late in the year.

“It was stunning blue skies and fresh snow everywhere as we hiked up Kayanjin Ri, where Mom was attempting to hike,” he said, choking back emotion. “The top of the mountain was so beautiful.”

When he spoke at an event in Nepal commemorating the loss of all the people who had died, he said it was nice to know that all of the people who had died there didn’t have far to go to heaven from such a beautiful place.

A year ago Saturday, the same day when Dawn Habash had been expected to return to Maine, son Khaled’s daughter Zinnia was born. Attendees at Saturday’s observance for Dawn Habash also noted Zinnia’s birthday, singing “Happy Birthday to You” as a beaming Yasmine Habash held Zinnia in her arms.

The ceremony contained numerous Buddhist aspects, honoring Dawn Habash’s Buddhist beliefs.

“This is a Buddhist ceremony. We invite you to be open-hearted and breathe, and love, like Mom did,” said Yasmine Habash, who lives in Alaska. She added later, “She had so much energy. I loved that about her. I hope we can all learn to live with a youthful spirit. She taught us all that.”

Greg Fahy, member of a Buddhist sangha, a group which met weekly with Dawn Habash, said just before she left for Nepal, the group held a session, called watering the flower, in which each member talked about what he or she admired most about Habash.

For Fahy, it was her courage, joyfulness and love of her family.

He cited a visit by some members of the group to speak with 14 men who were inmates at the Kennebec County jail, to offer them meditation. Fahy and Lynne Deeves, another member of the sangha, said other group members were apprehensive about trying to meditate with the 14 tough, tattooed inmates. Habash was not, and by the end of the session she had all 14 inmates doing “the lion” by leaning their heads back, sticking out their tongues as far as they could, holding up their hands as “claws” and roaring like a lion.

“That’s Dawn. That’s the way I like to think of Dawn,” Fahy said. “A piece of her is in my heart.”

Deeves said the next week, when the group went back to the jail, some of the inmates said they hadn’t fought that week because when tensions increased between them, one of them would roar like a lion as Habash had shown them to do, breaking the tension.

“She was such an example, to all of us, of courage and how to live from the heart, and to just go for it,” Deeves said of Habash. “She was so full of life and love.”

After the celebration, there was a potluck meal, and Khaled and Yasmine Habash showed photos from their recent trip to Nepal.

The packed auditorium was decorated with Nepalese prayer flags, Habash’s kayak paddle, family and trekking photos of Habash, a small prayer wheel and, for Zinnia, birthday balloons.

The Rev. Carie Johnsen, of the Universalist Unitarian Community Church, of Augusta, which Habash attended, said Habash brought joy and optimism wherever she went.

“No doubt Dawn Habash was a woman of the world,” Johnsen said. “Her life could not be contained in one geographic location.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.