Early life and ancestry
Halaby was born in Dallas, Texas. His father was Najeeb Elias Halaby, Sr. (March 17, 1878/1880 - December 16, 1928), a Syrian Christian, who immigrated to the United States from Syria in 1891. Halaby's paternal grandfather was Elias Halaby, provincial treasurer or magistrate in Ottoman Syria, who also came to the U.S. in 1891. Halaby's father worked as an importer and, later, as an oil broker. In the mid-1920s, Halaby's father opened Halaby Galleries, a rug boutique and interior-decorating shop, at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, and ran it with his wife, the former Laura Wilkins (April 23, 1889 - April 1987). He died shortly afterward, and his estate was unable to continue the new enterprise. Following his father's death, his mother married Urban B. Koen, but they ultimately divorced. Halaby's maternal grandfather was John Thomas Wilkins, who served in the 7th Tennessee Cavalry during the Civil War.
He was a graduate of The Leelanau School, a boarding school in Glen Arbor Township Leelanau County, Michigan, and is enshrined in that school's Hall of Fame. An alumnus of Stanford University (1937) and Yale Law School (1940), he served as a U.S. Navy test pilot in World War II. On May 1, 1945 Halaby made history by making the first transcontinental jet flight in US history. Halaby took off from Muroc AFB, California and landed in Patuxent, Maryland in 5 hours and 40 minutes.
After the war he served as the U.S. State Department's civil aviation advisor to King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, helping the king develop Saudi Arabian Airlines. Next he worked as an aide to Secretary of Defense James Forrestal in the late 1940s, then helped Paul Nitze write NSC 68.
He joined Laurance Rockefeller's family office in 1953 reviewing investments in civil aviation.
From 1961 to 1965, he served as the second Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, appointed by President John F. Kennedy. Halaby was a proponent for the creation of the U.S. Department of Transportation, which occurred during his time in the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. From 1969 to 1972, he served as CEO, and chairman after 1970, of Pan Am. As Pan Am chairman, he was present at the christening of the first Boeing 747 aircraft.
Halaby was married three times. He married Doris Carlquist in Washington, D.C., on December 24, 1945 and he divorced her in 1977. They had three children: daughter Lisa Halaby, who would ultimately become Queen Consort of Jordan upon her marriage to King Hussein of Jordan in 1978; son Christian; and daughter Alexa.
He was married to the former Jane Allison Coates from 1980 until her death in 1996. From 1997 until his death in 2003 at age 87, he was married to Libby Anderson Cater.
- Najeeb Elias Halaby, Jr.'s Birth Certificate
- "Queen Noor". Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- Orfalea, Gregory The Arab Americans: A History. Olive Branch Press. Northampton, MA, 2006. Page 117
- Najeeb Halaby, longtime university supporter and volunteer, dies at 87
|Federal Aviation Administrator
1961 – 1965
William F. McKee