He is a son of the late Bezet W. Tessema and the late Befekadu Dereje, who lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The groom’s mother was an accountant for Mitsubishi in Addis Ababa. His father was the managing director of Ethio-Japanese Textiles, also in Addis Ababa.
Ms. Gruen and Mr. Befekadu met in May 2015, after Mr. Befekadu had summoned her to a hospital in Fairfax, Va., where he had taken her sister, Madeleine Gruen, who had breast cancer.
Madeleine Gruen, a single mother, had met Mr. Befekadu a year before at a bar in Fairfax, where they both lived, and they had become fast friends.
“My sister would talk to me about Sisay nearly every day,” said Viveca Gruen, who was living in Manhattan at the time.
“She would always tell me what a really great, sweet and caring guy Sisay was,” Ms. Gruen continued. “But given his job as an international cargo pilot, we had never actually met face to face. He was in Kabul one week, Korea the next, but whenever he was back in Fairfax, he and Madeleine would always get together and go shopping or something, and he would tell her all about his travels.”
Ms. Gruen said that the moment she walked into the hospital room, she understood why her sister had always spoken so highly of Mr. Befekadu, who was sitting at her bedside, a concerned look on his face.
“He had a calmness, presence and clear dedication to my sister that was striking,” Ms. Gruen said. “Over the course of that week, Sisay and I spent every day together in the hospital with her.”
During that week, Madeleine Gruen remained upbeat, and began telling her sister that she and Mr. Befekadu would make a perfect couple.
In the ensuing days, Madeleine Gruen learned that her disease had progressed and decided not to pursue further treatment. Nevertheless, she continued pursuing the idea of her sister…