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Thafer “Joe” Fahoum Memorial Scholarship

Joe Fahoum was born June 21, 1944 in Nazareth, Palestine. At age 17, he left home to live in Germany briefly before immigrating to the U.S to further his education. He earned a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics at Henderson State University and a Masters of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Arkansas.

He moved to Tumwater in 1978 with his wife, Catherine, and family to begin a career as a bridge designer in the Washington State Department of Transportation. He dedicated a more than 38 year career to the Washington State community ensuring the safety and integrity of our bridges and transportation network.

His passion, however, was really in supporting kids through a good education. Joe Fahoum spent more than 40 years as a contributing member to the Tumwater school community. His four children attended the Tumwater School District from elementary through high school before matriculating to higher education. He volunteered countless hours to marching band trips, supporting elected school board officials, community service projects, and providing first­ hand insights into Islam and working to create understanding of all faiths. He attended numerous Tumwater High School football games to watch his children and all their friends in the marching band halftime performances (and to cheer as loud as anyone for Tumwater “winning” football). He coached recreational soccer for his children from ages 4-18 through Tumwater Soccer Club.

Joe is remembered and survived by his wife, Catherine; four children, Yousef, Mona, Nujoud, and Amira; and six grandchildren, Zara, Anja, Niah, Xavier, Nisa and Torin. He demonstrated his love by feeding everyone that would let him, particularly with baklava, and believing that everyone can be, and do, better. His generosity will be remembered and passed on through this scholarship. He would want to continue to encourage and help educate deserving students.


  • Applicants must be a graduating senior attending either Black Hills or Tumwater High School.
  • Applicants must have demonstrated good character throughout their high school career.
  • Applicants must graduate with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.
  • Applicants must have demonstrated a desire to improve their community through civil service, community service clubs, or volunteerism.
  • Applicants must demonstrate desire and/or commitment to diversity and cultural understanding.
  • Applicants must plan to attend either a 2- or 4-year college or university immediately following high school.
  • While not a requirement, preference will be given to applicants who are first- or second­ generation immigrants and/or the first in their family to attend college. All students are encouraged to apply.


  1. Applicants must complete a Tumwater Education Foundation Scholarship Application and answer the following supplemental questions.
  2. In 250 words or less answer each of the following:
    • Describe your commitment to increasing awareness and understanding of diversity.
    • Identify your talents and passions. Explain how your educational choices have helped to enhance your talents and/or passions.
    • Are you a first- or second-generation immigrant to the US and/or the first in your family to go to college?