November 16, 2016

Leroy C. Ioas (1896-1965) - The Guardian's Hercules; "vigorous spirit of determination… and of noble enthusiasm"; "energy, judgment, zeal and fidelity"; "incessant activities and prodigious labours"; "tireless vigilance, self-sacrifice, and devotion to the Cause in all its multiple fields of activity"; “Outstanding Hand of the Cause”; “First Secretary-General of the International Baha’i Council”; “Personal Representative of the Guardian of the Faith”

Leroy, as he was affectionately known throughout the world by Baha'is and countless other associates, was the brightest luminary of a large and united family whose services to Baha'u'llah began shortly after the inception of His Faith in North America.

Leroy was born in Wilmington, Illinois, in the heartland of America, soon after Baha'u'llah's Message first reached the West in 1893. His father, Charles loas, was of Lutheran background and had come from Munich to the United States in 1880. He accepted the Faith in 1898 and served it faithfully until his death in 1917, as a member and secretary of the House of Spirituality in Chicago, the first Local Spiritual Assembly. To him 'Abdu'l-Baha made a remarkable promise: “… thou wilt behold thyself in a lofty station, having all that is in earth under its shadow…" He was "that wonderful man loas", whose seed, like Abraham's, scattered around the globe in succeeding generations, to carry the news of the New Day.

Leroy's mother, Maria, born a German Catholic, accepted Baha'u'llah with her husband. For her son, she was "one of the angels of the American Baha'i community", and lived to hear of his elevation to the rank of Hand of the Cause and to participate in the dedication of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in Wilmette in 1953, to the erection of which both husband and children had greatly contributed.

Leroy, as many have heard, was the Guardian's Hercules. His "vigorous spirit of determination… and of noble enthusiasm," his "energy, judgment, zeal and fidelity," his "incessant activities and prodigious labours", his "tireless vigilance, self-sacrifice, and devotion to the Cause in all its multiple fields of activity"- these are the Guardian's words - were greatly prized by Shoghi Effendi as "assets for which I am deeply and truly thankful." "I admire the spirit that animates you [and] marvel at your stupendous efforts," he wrote to this "dearest and most valued co-worker".

September 13, 2016

Margaret Stevenson - New Zealand’s first Bahá’í

Margaret was born on November 30th, 1865. Her first intimation of the Bahá’í Faith was through reading “The Christian Commonwealth” and she admitted later that “she did not think any more about it”. She received this journal from her sister who was in London studying music and had heard ‘Abdu’l-Bahá address the congregation of St. John’s, Westminster at the invitation of Canon Wilberforce. She was so impressed that when another discourse given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at City Temple, London was printed in “The Christian Commonwealth” dated March 27th, 1911, she sent a copy of the journal to Margaret in New Zealand.

In 1912, Miss Dorothea, Spinney, a friend of Margaret’s sister, arrived in Auckland from London and stayed with Margaret at her home. Miss Dorothea Spinney gave recitals of Greek plays. While staying with Margaret she talked about the Bahá’í Cause and her own meeting with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This evidently touched a subconscious chord in Margaret.

To quote Margaret’s own words: “As a child, I used to wish I had lived when Christ was on earth. As Miss Spinney spoke, I remembered my childhood wish, and the thought came to me that I too might have denied Him as so many others had done. It was this secret thought that made me seriously think of what I heard from Miss Spinney, and through God’s grace and mercy I was enabled to grasp and believe in Bahá’u’lláh and His Message”.

June 8, 2016

May Maxwell (1870-1940) – “that candle of the love of God”; “'Abdu'l-Bahá's beloved handmaid”; “the distinguished disciple”; a “martyr’s death”; “glorious sacrifice”; her name is mentioned in the Tablets of the Divine Plan

The just words, the words always to remember, were cabled by Shoghi Effendi: "'Abdu'l-Baha's beloved handmaid, distinguished disciple May Maxwell (is) gathered (into the) glory (of the) Abha Kingdom. Her earthly life, so rich, eventful, incomparably blessed, (is) worthily ended. To sacred tie her signal services had forged, (the) priceless honor (of a) martyr's death (is) now added. (A) double crown deservedly won. (The) Seven-Year Plan, particularly (the) South American campaign, derive fresh impetus (from the) example (of) her glorious sacrifice. Southern outpost (of) Faith greatly enriched through association (with) her historic resting-place destined remain (a) poignant reminder (of the) resistless march (of the) triumphant army (of) Baha'u'llah. Advise believers (of) both Americas (to) hold befitting memorial gathering."
–Shoghi Effendi (Cablegram, March 3, 1940; ‘Messages to America’)

…Shoghi Effendi once said to her [May Maxwell), one night when he came to dinner in the Western Pilgrim House after our union, that had I [Ruhiyyih Khanum] not been May Maxwell's daughter he would not have married me. This does not mean it was the only reason, but it was evidently a very powerful one, for in the cable he sent on 3 March 1940 officially announcing her death, which had taken place two days before, he said "To sacred tie her signal services had forged priceless honour martyr's death now added. Double crown deservedly won." These words clearly indicate her relationship to his marriage. In a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to one of her spiritual children He had written "her company uplifts and develops the soul". Until I came under the direct influence of the Guardian, through being privileged to be with him for over twenty years, I can truly say that my character, my faith in Bahá'u'lláh and whatever small services I had so far been able to render Him, were entirely due to her influence. From these facts it will be seen that when I arrived with my mother, on my third pilgrimage to Haifa, in January 1937, the status of my father inside the Faith can best be described as being "Mrs. Maxwell's husband".
- Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, (‘The Priceless Pearl’)

She was born in Englewood, New Jersey, on January 14, 1870, the daughter of John B. Bolles and Mary Martin Bolles, in descent American through many generations. Her early years were spent in the Englewood home of her maternal grandfather, a man distinguished in New York's banking world. She had one brother, Randolph, whom she loved deeply and whose attraction to the Baha'i Faith, as evidenced in the last year before his death in 1939 (by his translation into English of the French footnotes of Nabil), gave her supreme content.

January 13, 2016

Albert R. Windust (1874- 1956) – “Herald [of the] Covenant”; the first publisher of the Writings of the Faith in America; the founder of Star of the West; assisted with the publication of ‘Promulgation of Universal Peace’, and the first five volumes of 'The Baha'i World', 1926 to 1934

"Deeply grieved passing much loved greatly admired staunch ardent promoter Faith, Albert Windust, Herald Covenant, whose notable services Heroic Formative Ages Faith unforgettable. Assure friends relatives fervently supplicating progress soul Kingdom.
Shoghi”

Albert Robert Windust was born on Chicago's west side near Hull House on March 28, 1874. His parents were Thomas and Sarah Sheffield Windust. His father was a printer, who, shortly after Albert was born, moved with his family to a section of Chicago known as Woodlawn. They were members of the Episcopal Church. Mrs. Windust, a school teacher and a very active church worker, was the founder of the First Christ Church of Woodlawn (Episcopalian). 

In his early years, Albert Windust was not physically strong and this may have accounted for the fact that he had very little formal schooling. He was tutored in his early years by his mother and entered a public school at the fourth grade level. He ended his formak education in the sixth grade. Despite this, Albert Windust during his life attained a depth of knowledge and spiritual wisdom reached by very few.

At the age of fourteen Albert became an apprentice in the printing firm where his father worked. The following November his mother died. His interest in nature awakened a desire to draw, and he became a pupil at Chicago's Art Institute. Through associations made in the printing business, he illustrated stories of many authors, including Opie Read and H. Rider Haggard.