Mr Nāsīf Qāsim Abī-Al-Munà was born in Shānā, Lebanon on 29 September 1884.
He was the son of Qāsim Abī-Al-Munà and his wife Najībah and had two known siblings: Bryan (b. 1875) and Richard (b. 1879).
Nāsīf had emigrated to the USA in 1903 with his brother Richard and by 1910 both brothers were naturalised citizens living in Fredericksburg, Virginia with Nāsīf working as a successful merchant. He lived in America under the name Nassef Cassem Balman.
It seems he returned to Lebanon around the latter half of 1910 where he married a lady named Hisn, of whom nothing is known, and it appears by early 1912 the couple were expecting their first child. With Nāsīf setting off for America, perhaps around mid-March 1912, he would not be present for the birth of his son who was delivered on 12 April that year and named Mahmūd Nāsīf.
On his return to America Nāsīf was accompanied by two relatives, 11-year-old Husayn Mahmūd Husayn Ibrāhīm, who was rejoining his parents in the USA, and Farīd Qāsim Husayn. The trio boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as third class passengers (Nāsīf and young Husayn travelling on ticket number 2699 which cost £18, 15s, 9d).
In 1938 he was persuaded to tell his story in an account which appeared in a North Carolina newspaper. He reported that after the collision he had placed young Husayn on his shoulders and pushed through the crowds to the boat deck. He then placed the boy in a lifeboat but he stated later that the boy drowned despite his efforts to save him. Nāsīf also claimed that after all the boats had gone he helped a woman and her children to lower themselves down a rope into the water before jumping into the water himself. Buoyed up by his lifebelt he was fortunate that a lifeboat passed by him and he was helped aboard. The truth of this account is questionable and it is almost certain that Nāsīf got into lifeboat 15 before it was lowered from the deck. Why his young charge did not do the same is unknown.
After arriving in New York, Nāsīf went to his uncle George Hassan in Fredericksburg, Virginia where he spent some time recuperating.
Following the disaster Nāsīf settled in Roxboro, North Carolina around but would continue to travel back and forth to Lebanon to his wife and child. He and his wife had a further child, a daughter, before the marriage broke down and he remarried a lady named Najmie Abī-Al-Munà and had five daughters with her.
By the 1940s Nāsīf was living with a relative in Reidsville, Rockingham, North Carolina and working as a clerk in a café. Following his retirement in the late 1940s he returned permanently to Lebanon where he died in 1962.
His son Mohammed had joined his father in the USA in 1929, married an American woman named Nellie Frances Jenkins (1916-2003) in 1937 and raised a family in Washington, DC. Known as Michael Balman in the USA, he died in Virginia on 20 July 1997 and still has many descendents living in the area.
(Courtesy of Phillip Gowan, USA)