Tribute For Yves-Emmanuel Segui, Indomitable Bronx Pharmacist, Dies at 60

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

In the final hours of his life, a frail Yves-Emmanuel Segui lay in a hospital bed as the time ticked toward midnight. It was the night of April 5, the birthday of his younger daughter, Chloe. By 3 a.m. on April 6, his heart had stopped beating.

Mr. Segui, who was 60, had died of the coronavirus, his older daughter, Dr. Morit Segui, said. “I think he held on because of my sister,” she said, to avoid Chloe’s birthday becoming forever synonymous with his death.

If she was right, it would have been a fitting last act from a man who had dedicated his life to his two daughters.

“He would tell us we were literally everything that brought him joy,” Dr. Segui said. “I knew that growing up. That’s why I wanted to make him proud. Seeing us happy and fulfilled meant everything to him.”

Mr. Segui was born on Dec. 22, 1959, in Bocanda, Ivory Coast, the third of eight children of Anne and Faustin Segui, both schoolteachers.

Mr. Segui was a quiet young man who enjoyed photography, videography, action movies and practically anything starring Denzel Washington. He moved to the capital, Abidjan. He attended university, graduating with a pharmacy degree, and went to work for a pharmaceutical company.

As political unrest at home grew in the early 2000s, Mr. Segui and his daughters went to the United States, where his wife, Gisele Daffot, had already been working as an au pair. The family settled in Newark in 2004. Mr. Segui took a job as a parking attendant and stared down a challenge: what to do with the pharmacy degree that was the key to a good life in Ivory Coast but had little value in America.

“Coming from a French-speaking country with different drug names and different drugs altogether, he had to start from scratch,” Dr. Segui said.

So, for more than eight years, Mr. Segui took night courses to prepare for the state licensing exam that would allow him to work as a pharmacist.

“Coming to a new country, studying for a difficult exam all on his own, it’s pretty remarkable,” Dr. Segui said.

He took it first in 2004, and failed, then failed seven more times. He finally passed the test in 2012, but seven more years went by before he found steady work in his field, at the Riverdale Pharmacy in the Bronx. The commute to and from Newark was three hours each way on two buses and three trains.

“He was really happy that he had a real job, a contract, things were finally looking up,” said Dr. Segui, a resident at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. She had trained at University Hospital in Newark, where her father died.

“He wasn’t a C.E.O. or a big person,” she said, “but I want more to be known about him, that everything that he did and everything he worked for was not in vain.”

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