MANCHESTER — Family, friends and some of the city's top politicians are remembering Saghir "Saggy" Tahir, 68, as a pillar of the state's Pakistani and Muslim communities and a devoted family man who was always willing to lend his work ethic and opinion to his business and political ventures.
Tahir, who spent a decade representing Manchester's Ward 2 in the state's House of Representatives, died Wednesday of a heart attack, said his son, Misbah Tahir (see obituary on Page A5).
"He was a great father and a great role model," Misbah Tahir said Thursday.
Misbah Tahir said his father came to the United States in 1972 with no money, but an engineering degree he earned in Pakistan. That said, it was years before Tahir was able to find an engineering job. Instead, he had worked as many as three jobs, including as a waiter and a building security guard.
"He fit some of the stereotypes of first-generation Americans," his son said. "It's kind of a self-made, classic story."
Tahir became a U.S. citizen in 1978. He settled in Manchester and started his own construction consulting business. It grew to include holdings in real estate and a restaurant and convenience store, Misbah Tahir said.
He got involved in the local Pakistani and Muslim communities, including serving as a board member for the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester.
Dr. Salman Malik, who served with Tahir on the board of the Islamic Society, said he was deeply saddened at the loss of his friend and "pillar" of not just the Pakistani or Muslim communities, but the greater Manchester and New Hampshire communities as well.
"It just hasn't sunk in, the finality of it all," Malik said. "It's like we've closed a chapter in a book, and I just wish that book was longer."
Tahir extended his community involvement to state politics and was elected as a Republican representative to the State House in 2000, where he continued to represent Ward 2 until 2010. He ran for office because he wanted to give back to the community, his son said.
"He felt like he owed a lot to America and to New Hampshire for accepting him," he said. "He was a strong example for us."
Mayor Ted Gatsas said he was mourning the passing of "truly a dear friend" who, he said, would "never say no."
"Whenever somebody needed help, Saggy would help," Gatsas said. His death is "an absolute shock. There will certainly be a void (in the community)."
State Sen. Lou D'Allessandro, D-Manchester, remembered Tahir as a good businessman and a "great" family man who would never take a passive role.
"I don't think he was ever afraid to speak his mind," D'Allesandro said. "The community will certainly miss him."
In addition to his business and political interests, Tahir was active in several charities and advocacy groups, ranging from the Hooksett Community Food Pantry to the Americans for Resolution of Kashmir organization.
Misbah Tahir said his father was a devoted fan of the Boston Red Sox and Celtics and took members of his family to see Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, where the Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA title.