Manouchehr Hezari earned the illustrious title of Knight of Bahá’u’lláh by following Shoghi Effendi’s call in 1953 to pioneer in countries and territories the Faith had not reached. Settling in Tangier, he helped the Bahá’í community in Morocco develop for 29 years.
He passed away June 21, 2010, in Austin, Texas, where he had lived for 28 years. He was 88.
A message from the Universal House of Justice said in part, “We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of dear Manouchehr Hezari, who earned the immortal distinction of being designated by Shoghi Effendi as a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh for Morocco. He is remembered with loving appreciation for nearly three decades of devoted service in that country. He continued to serve the Cause, despite serious health problems, after immigrating to the United States.”
A letter of tribute from the National Spiritual Assembly expresses admiration for his response to “that stirring summons to pioneer service” and his courage in moving from his native Iran to “establish himself — for what would turn out to be many years — in the International Zone of a then partitioned Morocco. …”
Born to a Bahá’í family in Qazvin, Iran, in 1922, Manouchehr showed an affinity for electrical work from age 9, when he followed and observed the town’s only electrician — then wired the family home for electricity. Years later he earned an electrical engineering degree from the University of Tehran.
“He never saw anything as a problem that was unsolvable,” his daughter Emilia Hezari was quoted as saying by the Austin American-Statesman. “He had this immense curiosity for life, and no problem was too big or too hard.”
He married Hovieh Siavochi in Karaj in 1950. He was running an electric repair business in Araq, and the family had had the first of their three daughters by the time the Guardian issued his call for Bahá’ís to relocate as pioneers to countries and territories where no Bahá’ís lived.
Responding instantly, Manouchehr in September 1953 was among the first few Bahá’í pioneers to settle in the then-international city of Tangier. The friends there held prayer gatherings and information meetings, and the city’s first Local Spiritual Assembly was formed at Ridván 1954.
A few months later his family joined him in Tangier, including Hovieh, their daughter Roya, and his parents, Rachid and Laal Hezari.
The family stayed many years after Tangier was annexed by the Kingdom of Morocco. Manouchehr worked as an engineer and later as a station manager for Voice of America radio.
“He was a pillar of the Faith in Tangier and his house open to all,” a letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of Morocco says. “Mr. Hezari and his beloved wife Hovieh Khanum were a source of spirituality and support for all the friends. He also served the Faith as member of several local and national institutions.”
The family left Morocco for Austin in 1982 for the sake of his younger daughters’ education. He worked as an engineer at the University of Texas’ College of Communications until retirement in 1994.
“Throughout his life, Mr. Hezari was a trusted advisor and friend to many who were drawn to his gentle manner and kindness,” a statement from his family says, adding that he “remained intellectually curious and sharp to the end of his life.”
In addition to his wife, Hovieh, Manouchehr’s survivors include three daughters, Roya, Mehri and Emilia; and two grandchildren.