New Times lost one of our own this past weekend when Kareem Shaker died. According to his nephew David Michael, Kareem had a heart attack and passed away in his sleep. He was 33. It is not known whether he had an underlying medical condition.
Kareem wrote for New Times for several years, and his outlook toward South Florida's food scene was always fresh and vibrant... and unusual. Some of his most interesting and best work involved thinking way outside the box — like when he called out Miami's worst bathrooms (an important cautionary tale for the ages) or when he mused that In-and-Out Burger was sorely needed in Miami.
Kareem could also be thoughtful, as noted in his piece about what chefs in the Hispanic community are doing to lower their community's diabetes problem.
Our food writers meet weekly to brainstorm ideas and Kareem was passionate, creative, and eager to share stories and information. He would call and email me frequently about news he was working on, to get feedback or to just share his excitement of discovering a new restaurant that he liked.
Kareem, a graduate of Nova Southeastern University, earned his realtor license and moved to New Jersey last year to pursue his career in real estate. Kareem kept his love of journalism and Miami alive and, just last week, contacted our publication's editor-in-chief about writing again.
The news about Kareem's death quickly spread on Facebook, where family and friends shared their shock and grief over his sudden passing. His nephew told me that Kareem was an angel. "I have yet to meet someone that doesn't talk about his kind heart."
Ironically, Kareem nearly lost his life last year in a single car accident. According to CBS, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper performed CPR on Kareem, right on I-95, after finding him without a pulse and not breathing. Kareem was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released. The trooper, Yudiel Santana, along with Miami Beach Police Officer Tino Serrano, were later honored for their heroics.
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Kareem's funeral is today at 11 a.m. at St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Jersey City, New Jersey, but last evening a group of his friends gathered to toast to this promising young man who packed a lot of life into 33 short earthly years. There's another South Florida remembrance this evening.
At 7 p.m., friends of Kareem are invited to gather at NSU's Flight Deck at Don Taft University Center, Suite 1235, 3301 College Ave., Ft. Lauderdale and raise a glass.