Michael Ali Etemad
11-23-25 – 12-6-18
Michael Ali Etemad, aged 93, passed away peacefully at home in Tiburon on December 6th surrounded by close family members.
Mike was born in the holy city of Mashhad, Iran. His father, Mohammad Ibrahim, was a highly respected merchant trader who led caravans back and forth across Iran and into Poland and Russia. Settled in Tehran at the age of five, Mike grew up in a large extended family feeling well-loved despite the early death of his mother Amaneh Alavi in childbirth.
The youngest of eight siblings, Mike idolized his next older brother, Galen, a brilliant engineering student who traveled abroad to further his studies. Mike stayed home to study law, which he practiced briefly but then decided to follow his brother to America, where Mike received his BS degree in business administration at University of California at Berkeley followed by an MBA in world business at San Francisco State University.
In 1953 Mike’s studies were interrupted when he was discovered to have tuberculosis of the kidney. With no feasible treatment options available to him, he was advised to go back to Iran to live out his 15-year life expectancy. Instead he was fortunate to learn of treatment available at no cost to him at National Jewish Hospital in Denver where he was treated for nine months and cured by antibiotics just then coming into use.
Mike returned to Berkeley, where he met Jacqueline Grey of Menlo Park, who soon embarked on a 62-year marriage with him. They were quite a team. Together in 1958 they founded Foreign Exchange Ltd., a foreign-currency exchange firm that became a fixture in San Francisco for over 33 years. Mike joined the Junior World Trade Association and the International Management Association, rising to the presidency of each group. When he became president, he successfully urged each organization to accept women as members for the first time.
Mike never forgot Jackie’s dream of becoming a doctor. He insisted she take her pre-med courses while he worked nights at the Bank of America and cheered when she was admitted to University of California and San Francisco, where she received her MD in 1964 and went on to complete her residency in child and adolescent psychiatry.
Meanwhile, a succession of Mike’s nieces and nephews arrived from Iran to live in Mike’s home, work in the business, improve their English, and go on to their own careers. Ten years into their marriage, Mike and Jackie decided it was time to start a family. With typical efficiency, they soon produced identical twin boys. Three years later the family was completed when Mike’s older son, Brian, then 17, arrived from Iran to continue his education. Having lived in San Francisco for 15 years, the Etemad family relocated to Tiburon in 1972 and added one new member, Jackie’s grandmother Martha Hansen, who lived with them from age 93 until her death at 100.
During the time when houses were popping up all over the neighborhood, Mike served as chair of the Architectural Review Committee of the local homeowners’ association. He and Jackie were both active in Little League and the Tiburon Peninsula Soccer League.
Ever the hard worker, Mike was proud that until 1982 he never took a vacation. But finally his family convinced him to take some time off for travel. Favorite trips included visiting their sons’ East Coast schools or following their study abroad to Europe and Japan. They loved traveling with family and friends to the Caribbean, Alaska, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Mike sold the currency business in 1990, but began a second career in real estate, which he pursued actively until very recently. Mike is survived by his wife, Jacqueline Etemad, MD; his sons, Brian Etemad, Gregory Etemad (Maria Teresa Etemad), and Jeffrey Etemad, DO (Elizabeth Etemad, DO); as well as granddaughter Leila (19) and grandsons Cameron (16) and Eli (6).
The family would like to express their appreciation to the doctors, hospital staff, and caregivers who attended Mike, with special thanks to Hospice by the Bay. A gathering to remember Mike will be held on January 5, 2019, at 2pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 240 Channing Way, San Rafael. In lieu of flowers, donations to National Jewish Health of Denver are welcome.