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Richard Joseph Sayyah Milham of Orlando left us on October 29, 2017 in South Pasadena, Florida. The son of Lebanese immigrants Khalil Sayyah and Eugenie Helou, Dick was born in Brooklyn on December 4, 1934 and came to Orlando in 1940. He lived a youth of mischief, meeting Jesus at a Youth for Christ rally as a teenager. Dick was in the last graduating class of Orlando High School and went on to a deep education that included Wheaton College (from which he graduated at 19 with honors), Southeastern Seminary, Southern Seminary, Stetson University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Duke University.
He married Peggy Blackburn from Wilmington, N.C. in 1959 and they lived in North Carolina before coming to Orlando with their daughter Julee in 1964. Upon returning to Orlando, Dick became pastor at Powers Drive Baptist Church, growing that congregation with enthusiasm until 1973. While there, he also authored three books published by Broadman Press as well as a youth musical. His influence in the lives of the many he ministered to and counseled during those years is incalculable.
Dick then took his faith into the business world, first as a highly sought-after convention speaker and then a business consultant. As in all areas of life, in business, he was without peer in his ability to nearly instantly cut to the heart of complex situations and see to a solution, and he did so remaining thoughtful of all affected parties. Dick served industries for over 40 years but continued to pastor, speak, create music, write books, record albums, paint, and take amazing photographs. Every endeavor he embarked on, whether commercial or creative, came to him effortlessly. Throughout, he was incomparable and inimitable as a husband and a father.
He was no stranger to publicity, from controversy in his pastoring days to a front page profile in the Wall Street Journal. However, the Orlando Sentinel captured him uniquely in 1946, calling him "unusually friendly...with an almost swashbuckling poise" and quoting his mother as saying, "We often leave him at night to watch the younger children and listen to the radio without interruption...That's the nearest to work that he likes to get."
Dick was athletic, ingenius, and hilarious. He was also a subversive, a prankster extraordinnaire, and his own biggest fan.
He is survived by his wife and daughter as well as his sister Sylvia Jammal, many adored nieces and nephews, a special creative partner Kyle Ashley, and two cats that lurked in his transom. He was predeceased by his parents and by his siblings David Milham, Edmund Sayyah, Raymond Sayyah, and Renee Sisinni, who loved him like he was her own. A celebration of his life will be held at Church on the Drive (known as College Park Baptist when Dick was associate pastor there) on Saturday, November 11, at 2pm. Everyone is welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to St Jude Children's Research Hospital.
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