Tributes in brief: Lorelie Block, Valiollah Samadani, Mary Lou De La Cerda, John Warren, Mehran Rasti, Fedros Yavrom, Diane Taherzadeh
Lorelie Block, 73, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Lori Block was beloved among the Bahá’ís of Wisconsin and served for many years on the planning committee for the Green Lake Bahá’í Conference. She passed away March 1, 2013.
A message of condolence from the Universal House of Justice reads in part, “Her many years of consecrated, steadfast service to the Cause and in particular her close involvement with the Green Lake Bahá’í Conference will long be remembered.”
In its own message, the National Spiritual Assembly said the range and quality of her services “may well serve as an inspiring example of a life lived in service to humanity and God.”
Born in 1939 in Wausau, Wisconsin, and a Bahá’í all her adult life, Lori relocated as a pioneer for the Faith in Mexico for more than a year from late 1964 into 1966. Married to Ernest Block since 1972, she served on Spiritual Assemblies in various communities in Wisconsin and Michigan, was an assistant to Auxiliary Board members, and was elected as a delegate to the Bahá’í National Convention nearly every year of the 1980s and ’90s.
She was a committee member for the Green Lake Bahá’í Conference — the oldest continuous annual conference in the Bahá’í world — over several periods from the 1970s into the 1990s. She was the longtime Bahá’í representative on the Brown County Board of Clergy.
“Lori was known for her colorful personality, her depth of Bahá’í knowledge, and deep commitment to the Bahá’í Faith,” an electronic message to Bahá’ís in Wisconsin says.
Lori is survived by her husband, Ernest; a son, Jamal Block of Florida; and two grandchildren.
Valiollah Samadani, 86, Santa Cruz, CA
Valiollah Samadani moved as a pioneer for the Faith From Iran to Argentina, where he served for a number of years before settling in the United States. A family statement says he also assisted the Bahá’í World Center with translation work. He passed away February 11, 2013.
Describing him as a “steadfast, devoted follower of the Blessed Perfection,” a letter of tribute from the U.S. National Spiritual Assembly states, “We note with appreciation and gratitude … his efforts toward the promotion of the Cause as a pioneer, earlier the southern reaches of the Americas and more recently here in the north. Surely such a legacy will be remembered for many years to come.”
His family says Valiollah was brought up in Ghazvin, Iran, and attended Bahá’í youth deepening classes conducted by the Hand of the Cause Abu’l-Qasim Faizi.
Mary Lou De La Cerda, 82, Astoria, OR
Mary Lou De La Cerda, an active teacher of the Faith who served on a District Teaching Committee in the 1990s and worked with children in eastern Iowa, later moved to Hawai‘i to do volunteer work with its Baha’i Distribution Service — which her daughter managed — and taught children’s classes at the Hawai‘ian National Bahá’í Center. She passed away January 23, 2013.
A letter of tribute from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States says in part, “[W]e note with admiration and gratitude the legacy that she leaves behind, including her services to the Cause as a pioneer in the international field.”
A Bahá’í since 1974, Mary Lou was for years a member of the Spiritual Assembly serving the Bahá’í community of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, later moving to Manchester. She was widowed by the time she joined her daughter Charlotte in Hawai‘i in 1996, first in Pearl City and later in Ewa and Wahiawa. She served on several committees for the islands’ National Spiritual Assembly, as well as tutoring numerous schoolchildren, before moving back to the mainland in 2010.
John L. Warren, 87, King County, WA
John Warren was an enthusiastic teacher who served the Cause for many years in the Seattle area and pioneered for two years in Nagoya, Japan. He passed away February 7, 2013.
Born in 1926, John grew up and was educated in Kansas, and became a Bahá’í there in 1965. A scientist, he worked for years as a laboratory technician for Boeing in the Wichita area and served on the Spiritual Assembly in Whitewater.
From 1971–73 he lived with his wife, Donna, and their son in Nagoya, where they served on the Spiritual Assembly and hosted many discussions of the Bahá’í Faith that drew a number of students.
From there the family moved to the Seattle area. In the late 1970s and early ’80s John was a member of the District Teaching Committee serving northwestern Washington.
Mehran Rasti, 67, Fredericksburg, VA
Mehran Randall Rasti was an inventor who worked to develop methods for computer and Internet security, holding patents in the areas of secure payment methods, data encryption and more. He passed away February 2, 2013.
Born in 1945 in Yazd, Iran, Mehran was accepted to Shiraz Medical University when in 1964 he opted instead to study engineering at Louisiana State University. A few years after returning to Iran for military service, he met and married Fereshteh and their son was born in 1978.
After the Islamic Revolution, the family moved to Louisiana and later Texas, where Mehran worked for oil and chemical companies, and ultimately in the network and data processing field for LSU. He kept working beyond his university retirement in 2010 with the company he owned, Basavan Software.
In addition to his wife, Fereshteh, his survivors include his mother, Rouhangiz Rasti; a son, Roddy Mehrdad Rasti; a sister, Mahvash Pibworth; and a brother, Mehrdad Ronnie Rasti.
Fedros Yavrom, 71, Citrus Heights, CA
Fedros Yavrom taught the Faith extensively during his life, including as an international pioneer for a few months in Costa Rica, and worked in California to help recent immigrants from Iran integrate into their new homes. He passed away August 26, 2012, after having lived in Citrus Heights more than 30 years.
Born in Iran in 1940 to a Bahá’í family that had pioneered in Iraq and Iran, Fedros came to the United States for education in 1962 and became a permanent resident in 1969. He was a self-taught mechanic and earned a degree in mechanical design at California State University, Chico.
In 1972 he married the former Nancy Jenkins, who was already serving as a pioneer, and returned with her to San José, Costa Rica. Fedros participated in mass teaching activities until circumstances brought the couple back to the United States.
Over the years he served on various Spiritual Assemblies in California before moving permanently to Citrus Heights. He served as an assistant to an Auxiliary Board member and worked for a time to welcome new arrivals from Iran in cooperation with the U.S. Bahá’í Office of Persian-American Affairs.
Diane M. Groome Taherzadeh-Yazdian, 61, Ypsilanti Township, MI
Diane Taherzadeh conducted considerable research over many years on the life of Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, resulting in a 750-page manuscript as well as shorter works. The project was sparked about three decades ago, according to her husband, when she was asked to give a presentation on Bahíyyih Khánum’s life at Louhelen Bahá’í School. Diane passed away February 15, 2013.
Her survivors include her husband, Riaz Taherzadeh-Yazdian; a sister, Cheryl, of Michigan; a brother, Carle, of New York City; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.