Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 2824 Member Profile: Drs. Joseph B. and Omayma Touma Born and raised in Damascus, Syria, Joseph B. and Omayma Touma grew up in the cradle of civilization. As residents of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world they were surrounded by some of the most ancient historical and archeological art and artifacts, and this planted the seeds of fascination with and appreciation of art and high craftsmanship. The couple met while attending the School of Medicine at Damascus University, and Joe says that of the two, Omayma got higher grades. Omayma always wanted to be a doctor, and is grateful to her parents for encouraging and supporting this goal at a time when very few women were admitted to medical school. Joe attended the American school in Damascus as a middle and high school student, and was impressed by the history, geography and greatness of the United States. The Toumas were married 50 years ago, and moved to the U.S. for their residencies and fellowships. Once those were completed, they considered 15 different locations, including Detroit, Beckley and Martinsburg, in which to settle. Joe notes that encouragement he received from Steve Soltis (former CEO, then St. Mary’s Hospital) and Dr. McGinnis made Huntington very welcoming, and the presence of Marshall University, two very good hospitals and the Huntington Museum of Art led them to choose Huntington as their home. Once here, Joe immediately opened his ENT practice, and Omayma worked with Dr. Gil Ratcliff as the only female pediatrician in the area. She went on to serve as director of the Cabell Huntington Health Department for 12 years. During her tenureshewasable,withthehelpoftheCHHDstaffandthesupport of the community, to pass the clean indoor air regulations in Cabell County, paving the way for many other West Virginia counties to follow suit. After leaving the health department, Omayma joined the family medicine department at Marshall University School of Medicine as an associate professor for five years. All along the way, Joe was collecting art. His early fascination with Roman, Greek and Byzantine art grew to include Middle Eastern art, metalwork, ceramics, glass, carpets and prayer rugs. While not a collector herself, Omayma admires and appreciates beautiful things, and Joe credits her with opening his eyes to the value of sharing his collections and creating opportunities for the public to see objects from a place in the world they might not have the chance to visit. The Touma Near Eastern Gallery and the Touma Near Eastern Collection, generously funded and donated by Joe and Omayma, opened at the Huntington Museum of Art in 1998. Both of the Toumas are humbled by the popularity of this permanent installation, and are pleased that their collection is in a safe environment where it will be cared for in perpetuity. As Omayma says, “I am the beneficiary of that gift.” As community members, the Toumas take great pride in HMA. They recognize its value to economic development and say that with cuts to art education in local public schools the Museum’s importance keeps growing. Both Joe and Omayma note how pleased they are to see bright yellow school buses in the parking lot when they come up to HMA, saying “when you are in a museum you are in a different world, and you can see that on the children’s faces.” The Toumas view their involvement at HMA as one way to give back to the community that embraced them so many years ago, and they have been generous! In addition to gifts of art and financial support, time has been freely given: Joe has served on HMA’s Board of Trustees for many years, including as Board President. Joe and Omayma encourage others to become members of the Museum, and to take advantage of the many different programs offered here. As they say, “It’s a great resource, right here in Huntington!” Dr. Joseph B. Touma and Dr. Omayma Touma. Photograph copyright by EA Photography Studio and Production Laboratory (www.EAclubs. com) and printed with permission. The Touma Near Eastern Gallery opened at the Huntington Museum of Art in 1998.