These words have been written by Laleh Afnan-Samandari:
My mother was a descendent of Allah Verdi Khan and Imam Gholi Khan, Christian immigrants from Russia, who were rapidly promoted in the courts of King Tahmaseb I and Shah Abbas the Great during the 16th century, Persia.
Allah Verdi Khan and Emam Quoli Khnas’ descendents became promoters of Education, culture and architecture, many of whom in later years accepted the Bahai faith in Iran, including my great grandfather.
My mother was born as a second daughter to this family.
Her talent for art was evident from childhood and she was encouraged to train those inborn abilities by her parents whose open mindedness views were unique in the society in which they lived.
Being the daughter of a scholar who had established the first modern school in Shiraz, she became a teacher at the age of 18 and started working whilst continuing her education. Apart from working in elementary schools, she held Baha’i children’s classes where she taught the youngsters the virtues and the importance of service to mankind.
Her love for art was, however, the reason for her to study fine arts at Tehran University. Having finished her BA degree with outstanding results, she was given a scholarship to continue her education in Europe where she received her Master’s Degree.
She combined both her trainings and became a Fine Arts teacher to begin with at High School level and later at a teachers training college where she taught her students the value of Arts in training children. She also wrote a book on this subject which was later used as a text book at the teachers training college.
Her contribution was unique to the society that did not pay enough attention to the Arts. She taught her students to be open-minded but respect their society and roots at the same time.
She married my father Abol-Qassem Afnan in 1957 and moved to Shiraz with him. Two daughters were born to this marriage and later they lived to enjoy four grandchildren – Bayan, Tebyan, Nura and Nabil.
Our mother knew that she was approaching the end of her life since last December and awaited her last hours with grace and patience in particular the last few weeks spent at the JR hospital. She spent the last few weeks of her life counseling us to be kind, good and supportive of each other.