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".

Leroy was a practical man, of outstanding attainment in business, shrewd, determined, bard-working, content only with success - all qualities essential to the achievement of the goals to which his life was dedicated. Yet such qualities are not unique. Leroy's rare gift was his spirit, which propelled him tirelessly - a spirit of impeccable loyalty and obedience to the greatest or least wish and guidance of the Covenant, as embodied in 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. He was discerning, undeviating, trustful in his orientation to the Covenant, and this was the true source of his "enduring and remarkable" services. "The path is thorny and the problems many," he wrote in 1957, "but the spiritual confirmations are great, and the blessings of the Holy Spirit unending. I dare say, no one would trade his opportunity of service, and spiritual victory, for anything in the world."

Leroy himself described his life as moving through four episodes: his acceptance as a child and youth of spiritual truth and his meeting with 'Abdu'l-Baha; his years in San Francisco (1919-46); his return to Chicago (1946-52); and his transfer to Haifa, the World Centre of the Faith (1952-65). These episodes provide a frame in which to examine his achievements.


From boyhood Leroy was sensitive to the light of the Spirit. When, in 1912, 'Abdu'l-Baha came to Chicago, Leroy led his parents to Him in a crowded hotel lobby by the radiance which enveloped Him. Although only sixteen, he took the Master for his guide, and was aware of His guidance at several critical periods of his life. He was present when 'Abdu'l-Baha laid the cornerstone of the Temple in Wilmette - his father had helped to draft the petition to the Master for permission to build it - and as a young man he taught classes on its grounds. Also at sixteen, after high school and some commercial training, he began work in the railway industry which he continued, chiefly with Southern Pacific Lines, for forty years, rising from an insignificant post to become Passenger Traffic Manager in the Eastern United States. In 1919 he was married to Sylvia Kuhlman, and together they set out for San Francisco.


In his own estimation, his years in the West were the “most productive". (He evaluated them before transferring to Haifa.) As his business career grew in rank and responsibility, so did the scope of his Baha'i activities. For Leroy had a creative vision matched by practical sense and determination, and his hopes for the expansion of the Faith were boundless. And be arrived in California at the threshold of the Formative Age, in which, led by the newly-appointed Guardian, the American Baha'is would pioneer the establishment of the Administrative Order.

Almost his first act on reaching San Francisco was to address a letter to 'Abdu'l-Baha, begging confirmation for all his family and his children unborn, and for his own severance, knowledge, and steadfastness "that this faltering one may be quickened through that Divine Power, and thereby render some service which may be conducive to the happiness of the heart of 'Abdu'l-Baha." He had heard the Master's Divine Plan Tablets read at the American Convention in New York that spring, and his desire to serve had been fully awakened.

Led by such pioneers as Mrs. Goodall and her daughter Ella G. Cooper, the Faith had been established in San Francisco and the Bay area for a quarter of a century, and opportunities of teaching were rapidly developing. Sylvia and Leroy opened their home to study classes, and before long Leroy was conducting, almost unaided, classes of a hundred in San Francisco and Oakland. They had also moved to the Baha'i Centre, which they kept open for all occasions, and to these responsibilities were added Leroy's chairmanship of the San Francisco Spiritual Assembly, an office be held for twenty years, and membership of the Western States Teaching Committee.

At this time so few believers in the West were available to teach and conduct study classes that, as Leroy wrote, "the situation became extremely discouraging" and the burdens he carried affected his health. He determined to change the situation, to train teachers, "that we should not again find ourselves in such a deplorable situation. By nature I have always faced a situation and then tried to figure out the steps necessary for solving the problem... Thus, during this period of intensive teaching and great stress my mind began to work on steps towards a solution... Out of this period three different plans of teaching came to me. One was to establish in this liberal western area very large unity conferences... Another... was... the revised teaching plan which ultimately found its consummation in the first Seven Year Plan... The third was to... find a place where people could gather for a period of one or two weeks for the dual purpose of deepening their understanding of the Faith and preparing them for public teaching..."

These ideas were the genesis of projects which mightily influenced the growth of the Faith in America and, indeed, in the Baha'i world. In 1912, when bidding farewell to Baha’is gathered in San Francisco, 'Abdu'l-Baha had been greatly moved and had voiced His hope that "this amity... shall lead to spirituality in the world, to impart guidance to all who dwell on earth." Leroy remembered these words and sought to arrange an amity conference. He found support from Dr. David Starr Jordan of Stanford University, Rabbi Rudolf I. Coffee and other civic leaders, but had to overcome some timidity among the Baha'is. At last, they gave their blessing, and the Conference for World Unity, held at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, on March 20-22, 1925, was a brilliant success. Shoghi Effendi, "much interested", hoped it would "prove a starting point for further important developments", and in 1926-7, a series of World Unity Conferences were sponsored by the Baha'is in sixteen cities of the United States and Canada. 

Two decades later, shortly before leaving the West, Leroy took an active part with the Baha’is of the Bay area in arranging another series of four great public meetings at the Palace Hotel (1943-4), followed a year later by a wide proclamation of the Faith on the occasion of the first United Nations Conference in 1945. His youthful vision had indeed attained maturity.

Leroy's association with Dr. Jordan brought him the offer of a scholarship for Stanford University: "he seems to me a young man of marked promise who ought not to lose the advantages, which may be extremely real, of a college education.” But Leroy could not accept, for his family and Baha’i responsibilities were already too great; by then his two daughters, Farrukh and Anita, had been born. Ten years later this decision was fully vindicated when the Guardian wrote to him: "What the Cause now requires is not so much a group of highly cultured and intellectual people . . . but a number of devoted, sincere and loyal supporters who, in utter disregard of their own weaknesses and limitations, and with hearts afire with the love of God, forsake their all for the sake of spreading and establishing His Faith." (Through his secretary, November 14, 1935.)

For some time Leroy had been seeking to implement his idea of a Baha’i school, and had consulted several believers throughout California. A fortuitous circumstance led him to John and Louise Bosch in Geyserville, to find that they had long thought on similar lines and had even expressed to 'Ahdu'l-Baha their desire to dedicate their property to Baha'i service.

As John's seventieth birthday was approaching (August I, 1925), they decided to invite the friends to celebrate it and the Feast of Kamal under the Big Tree. About one hundred came from nine communities; they discussed a unified teaching plan and resolved to meet there annually. Consultation with the National Assembly brought the appointment of John Bosch, Leroy, and George Latimer to consider the establishment of a Baha'i School; Geyserville was chosen for its venue and the first session opened in 1927. This is not the place for its history, unforgettable to early students, nor to extol all those who contributed to its development, most notably Mrs. Amelia Collins, nor to appreciate the gift, in the School's ninth year, of its property to the National Spiritual Assembly, thus making it the first truly Baha'i school. But these words from Leroy are appropriate: “John and Louise were unique characters, and their devotion to the Faith, their spirit of dedication, is one of the strong pillars upon which the school is built... The Guardian has referred to the Geyserville Summer School as the child of the Administrative Order. This expresses the whole spirit of the school, how its goals are the goals of the Faith itself, namely, developing teachers, deepening the understanding of the believers, and confirming souls." "It would be no exaggeration to say," wrote Shoghi Effendi, "that the unique contribution which the Geyserville Summer School has made ... has been to teach the friends and inspire them to live up to the high standard which the Teachings inculcate, and thus teach the Cause through the power of example.” (Through his secretary, March 14, 1939.)

Leroy's first decade in San Francisco had indeed been productive, and his efforts had widened to include the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California and Arizona. But in 1932, with his election to the National Spiritual Assembly - its youngest member- his activities became national and his labours truly herculean. Shoghi Effendi greeted his election with a "deep sense of satisfaction" and looked to his "advice and executive ability" to "lend a fresh impetus... to the work that the Assembly has arisen to accomplish." (May 30, 1932)

He was at once appointed to the National Teaching Committee and served as its chairman for fourteen years. This was the period of the First Seven Year Plan (1937-44), which the Guardian characterized "as the first and practical step" in fulfilling America's mission under the Divine Plan, and mid-way in its course as an "urgent immense supreme task". (Cable to Leroy Ioas, May 14, 1941.)

Leroy was already attuning himself to the coming challenge and, in May 1932, he submitted a plan of work for the National Teaching Committee which the Guardian found "most promising". But in fact it was Shoghi Effendi who was leading the American Baha'is toward their prodigious task, as his messages between 1932-5 amply attest, and Leroy responded to every word. In September 1935 be placed before Shoghi Effendi the Committee's plan to introduce the Faith into the twelve states of the United States where there were as yet no Baha'is; the Guardian "fully and gladly" endorsed it, and galvanized the American Community in October by heralding a "new hour" in the Faith, "calling for nation-wide, systematic, sustained efforts in teaching field..." (Cable, October 26, 1935.)

The following Convention received this astounding call: "... Would to God every State within American Republic and every Republic in American continent might ere termination of this glorious century embrace the light of the Faith of Baha'u'llah and establish structural basis of His World Order." The First Seven Year Plan came to birth to fulfil this tremendous challenge.

And it did fullfil it, for it established Local Spiritual Assemblies in thirty-four states and provinces of the United States and Canada (including Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia) where none had existed in 1937, trebled the number of localities in North America where Baha'is lived, and achieved its Latin American goals. It was "the greatest collective undertaking in the annals of the first Baha'i century," [1] and it was a battle for heroes all the way.

The records of that time are ample and may be sought. What here concerns us is Leroy's share, pre-eminently his chairmanship of the Committee which led the great campaign in North America. The Guardian called it the “all important National Teaching Committee" and acclaimed its work as "truly stupendous, highly meritorious and magnificent in all its aspects. In itself it constitutes a glorious chapter in the history of the Faith in the North American continent..." (To Leroy loas, December 17, 1943.) And to Sylvia loas he wrote that "without the steady faith and tireless devotion" which Leroy had "brought to bear on the teaching work of North America, the Plan might not have gone ahead as smoothly to victory as it did." (Through his secretary, July 6, 1944.)

The writer was privileged to experience six years of those "difficult but happy times", as Leroy wrote, when "we were struggling through the First Seven Year Plan, with all its implications of bringing about a balance between individual initiative and group coordination, in the creative field of teaching."

No words could describe the debt which the American Community owes to Leroy as chairman and Charlotte Linfoot as secretary of the National Teaching Committee, in those years of incredible work, anxiety and strain, which were so joyously crowned with heart-thrilling victory.


In November 1946, Leroy received promotion and was transferred to Chicago by the Southern Pacific Company. Thus began a brief but useful phase, coinciding with the Second Seven Year Plan, when Leroy lived near the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. As a member of the National Spiritual Assembly he had been a Temple trustee since 1932, but now he was able to assist more actively as the inner ornamentation proceeded and plans for the landscaping were begun. For the last three years of this period he was National Treasurer, a critical post for the completion of this project which had engaged the Baha’is during most of the twentieth century.

But further horizons were beckoning. In May 1948, Leroy represented, with four others, the International Baha’i Community at the United Nations Conference on Human Rights in Geneva. He also participated in the first European Baha’i Teaching Conference in that city, where he spoke memorably on the Covenant. Afterwards, he visited Baha'i communities in the ten European goal countries of the Second Seven Year Plan, and in 1949 became a member of the European Teaching Committee. It was the beginning of his association with Baha’i teaching in Europe.

Leroy's reputation outside Baha'i circles was also steadily increasing. He was always a companionable man, with a ready sense of humor, and was warmly admired by people from all walks of life. "We believe in severance but not separation from the world!" he wrote in 1933, and proved it by the scope of his social and humanitarian activities. Member of the Commonwealth, Kiwanis and Cosmos Clubs in San Francisco, and of the Rotary, Skal and Union League Clubs in Chicago, he was also elected to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in San Francisco as its first white member, and served on the executive committee of the American Association of Passenger Traffic Officers while working in Chicago. As he added to his multitudinous enterprises much public speaking, and never concealed his Baha'i conviction, it is certain that his life was a continuous proclamation of the Faith of Baha’u’llah to his "legion of friends". [2]

Thus his sudden resignation from his high business connection, to assist the Faith at its World Centre in Haifa, astonished colleagues throughout the United States, who yet respected a decision of such courage and principle.

The effect on his fellow Baha'is was no less far-reaching. When, in December 1951, the Guardian raised him to the rank of Hand of the Cause, scores of letters and telegrams arrived from all parts of America and the world, from individuals and Assemblies, in loving tribute to his past services and to wish him well. Only three months later these friends were stunned by the further news of his departure for Haifa. Again their messages flowed to him, in even greater number, filled with joy, pride, appreciation, and a sense of immense loss.

"We are bewildered by our loss of a friend and distinguished worker... It is a shock which we feel deep within." (National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States.)

"Words are inadequate to express the feelings in our hearts." (Chicago Local Spiritual Assembly.)

"We were profoundly surprised, grieved and overjoyed all at the same time... "(Pasadena Local Spiritual Assembly.)

"We are profoundly affected by spirit of dedication devotion obedience with which you have responded to beloved Guardian's summons." (New York Local Spiritual Assembly in telegram.)

"You will be greatly missed by the friends" (San Mateo Local Spiritual Assembly.)

To read these messages is to realize how deeply Leroy's years of service had influenced the American Baha'is. And his decision was significant in other ways, for it focused the thoughts of many on the needs at the World Centre, and prepared them to respond with like promptitude and sacrifice to the Guardian's call just one year later for pioneers for the World Crusade.

"It is the most difficult decision I have had to make in my entire Baha’i life," Leroy wrote to Paul Haney on the eve of his departure. Yet events had been leading to this end for several months, and well before his appointment as a Hand of the Cause.

In the spring of 1951, Mrs. Amelia Collins, ever his devoted friend, on a visit from the Holy Land where she then lived, described the tremendous and sorrowful burdens of the Guardian. "I was deeply moved, saddened, and agitated," Leroy wrote. "Only once have I felt more anguish . . . when the Beloved Master ascended. . ." In October he received a letter from Shoghi Effendi, expressing the hope that "a time will come when you can devote more time to the work, and internationally as well as nationally." (Through his secretary, September 28, 1951.) Striving to understand the implications of these words. Leroy consulted Milly Collins and his wife, drew up a statement of his personal position for Mrs. Collins to present to Shoghi Effendi when she returned, and later was moved by his appointment as a Hand of the Cause to send this directly to the Guardian. He received from Shoghi Effendi an invitation to come for consultation, but by February 15th the Guardian had reconsidered and wrote (through his secretary): "...what he needs, I might almost say desperately, is a capable, devoted believer to come and really take the work in hand here, relieve him of constant strain and details, and act as the secretary-general of the International Baha'i Council."

We know from Leroy's letters that he faced then a "terrifically hard" decision, that his "steps... faltered," but that with the support of his wife -"a tower of spiritual strength" - he was able to reply at once, on February 25th: "Sylvia and I deeply moved privilege serve Beloved Guardian."

He arrived in Haifa on March 17th, leaving Sylvia to settle their affairs and follow, and carrying to the Guardian the love and greetings of a host of friends, many of whom had gathered in Temple Foundation Hall to bid farewell to one who for nearly forty years had served the Faith in America with all his loyalty and strength.


Before Leroy arrived in Haifa, Shoghi Effendi had already announced the enlargement of the year-old International Baha'i Council and the functions of its members, in an historic cablegram which first revealed his plan for a global ten-year crusade (March 8, 1952). Leroy was both its Secretary-General and one of the four Hands residing in the Holy Land, and very soon he became the Guardian's assistant secretary as well.

Baha’u’llah Himself had inaugurated the World Centre of His Faith and had given it a charter in His Tablet of Carmel. Over the years this spiritual Centre had unfolded its potentialities, but its administrative development had only just begun. Thus Leroy found himself in the midst of enormous responsibilities, delegated by the Guardian, which he shared in lesser or greater degree with his fellow members of the Council. With them, and under the Guardian's close direction, he sought to consolidate the Council's relationship with the civil authorities of Israel; negotiated for the purchase of a number of properties on Mount Carmel and near the Shrine of Baha'u'llah; established Israel branches of four National Spiritual Assemblies to take title to these properties; and defended the Faith against virulent enemies who, at every turn, tried to hinder and forestall the Guardian in his cherished plans. Alone, guided only by the Guardian, he supervised the construction of the drum and dome of the Shrine of the Bab, thus bringing this noble building to its completion and full glory in October 1953. And he supervised the erection, in the space of two years, of the International Archives Building, which was completed before Ridvan 1957. [3] At the same time the progress of the Crusade needed constant stimulus and guidance, and in this Leroy had a significant share, both through a voluminous correspondence and by personal contact in visits to various national and local communities. He was also making friends in Israel, was a member of half-a-dozen clubs and societies, and lectured widely on the Faith, particularly to Rotary Clubs, from Jerusalem and Beersheba to Nazareth and 'Akka. And he gave Press interviews which brought favorable and extensive publicity, not only in Israel but in the United States, South Africa and Europe.

Not much imagination is needed to realize that Leroy was a busy man! The fact is brought home more clearly if one turns to the Guardian's messages to the Baha'i world, announcing the fast-succeeding achievements at the World Centre during these years, 1952-7. But only the few who lived and worked in Haifa at this time, handicapped by the austerities of a new State, the conditions of labour, the interminable procedures of officialdom, the excessive burdens which they strove to carry, and even their own inexperience for the tasks assigned, could ever truly say what their life was like in this period of the Faith's greatest expansion. Looking back on it in 1962, Leroy remarked, "When I think of the way in which I had to carry on the work here, alone, on foot, with no auto, in spite of every difficulty, of a new State, of new people, of situations within the... , community..." What a contrast, indeed, to his conditions of work in America. And little wonder that those early years in Haifa changed him from a vigorous man in the prime of life - "Ioas could have been stepping off a Chicago bus," wrote a Chicago Tribune reporter, who was hoisted with him to the base of the dome of the Shrine on a 3-foot square wooden tray - to a man perpetually troubled in health, in need of long periods of rest and cure which he sought almost annually in Europe or America. Indeed, by October 1953, with the completion of the Shrine of the Bab, his heart was already weakened, and in January 1955 the Guardian was cabling him: "Be not anxious. Rest full month...” 

For Shoghi Effendi, having toiled for decades almost alone and in even more difficult circumstances, well appreciated what his Hands and Council were performing. As success followed success, Leroy received through Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum a number of cablegrams: "Tell Leroy loving appreciation...", "delighted victories…”, "deeply appreciate splendid achievement". And to Leroy's mother he had written, in his own hand, when her son first came to Haifa: "The work in which your very dear and highly esteemed son is now so devotedly and actively engaged is highly meritorious... his self-sacrificing labours will be richly rewarded by Baha’u’llah." (March 20, 1952.)

One such reward was the naming after him of the Octagon door of the Shrine of the Bab, soon after he had stayed back from the public dedication of the Temple in Wilmette to complete the dome of the Shrine, [4] and another he must have realized when he accompanied Shoghi Effendi to the base of the dome on the Ninth Day of Ridvan, 1953, and assisted him to place beneath a golden tile some plaster from the room of the Bab's imprisonment at Mah-Ku.

The most memorable expression of the Guardian's appreciation is contained in his last long message to the American Baha'i Community, sent only six weeks before his passing, in which he praises "the magnificent and imperishable contribution" made by members of that community, "singly and collectively, to the rise and establishment of the institutions of their beloved Faith at its World Centre, through the assistance given by their distinguished representatives serving in the Holy Land... and he lists all that had been achieved in "four brief years of unremitting devotion to the interests of the Ten-Year Plan..." (September 21, 1957.)

A book could be written about these "enduring achievements", but here only two will be specially mentioned. The acquisition of the Temple land on Mount Carmel involved most intricate negotiations. The Guardian had chosen a singularly beautiful site at the mountain's head, overlooking both sea and city, with a view of the Shrine along Carmel's flank. Baha’u’llah had visited this land and revealed there His Tablet of Carmel. Except for the unique problems posed by its purchase, it was an ideal site. But its position was strategic and the Army controlled the property, which belonged to the Catholic Church. Leroy needed over two years to resolve this tangle and obtain the title deeds.

The last service Leroy rendered to his beloved Guardian while he lived was the one most valued - "the final and definite purification, after the lapse of no less than six decades, of the Outer Sanctuary of the Most Holy Shrine of the Baha'i World..." It was the climax of "a long-drawn- out process" for expropriation by the State of Israel of the entire property owned and controlled by the Covenant-breakers, which surrounded Baha'u'llah's resting-place and the Mansion of Bahji. (Shoghi Effendi, September 21, 1957.) In entrusting this task to Leroy, the Guardian had told him that all else he had done, even his work for the Shrine of the Bab, was as silver; to accomplish this assignment would be as gold.

A thrill of happiness went round the Baha'i world when, on June 3, 1957, the Guardian cabled: "With feelings of profound joy, exultation and thankfulness, announce... signal, epoch-making victory won over the ignoble band of breakers of His Covenant...” They had appealed to the Supreme Court against the expropriation order and had lost, and by September 6, 1957, they and all their belongings had gone from the precincts of the Shrine. On December 2, 1957, the title to the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, the Mansion, and all other buildings and lands which the Covenant-breakers had owned there, passed on Leroy's signature to the Israel Branch of the United States National Spiritual Assembly, in an historic transaction witnessed also by the Hand of the Cause Ugo Giachery and Mrs. loas. We who today enjoy the supreme tranquility and peace of those holy surroundings should pause to recall that neither the Master nor the Guardian ever walked there without knowing the presence of those tainted souls.

In all his services at the World Centre in the lifetime of the Guardian, Leroy knew full well that he was but an instrument guided and impelled by Shoghi Effendi. Happily, he was an instrument uniquely prepared for the demanding tasks which were laid upon him. His forty years of preliminary service to the Cause of Baha'u'llah, his unexcelled loyalty to His Covenant, his character steeled by experience to unremitting effort and perseverance, and his practical wisdom, provided the qualities which enabled him to bring them to fulfilment at that crucial stage of the Faith's development.

And now something must be said of his activities outside the World Centre. For Leroy managed, between 1953 and 1964, to travel in four continents. His most important missions were as Shoghi Effendi's special representative to the first Intercontinental Conference in Kampala in February 1953, when the World Crusade in Africa was launched; and after the Guardian's passing, to the last of the Intercontinental Conferences at the mid-way point of the Crusade, held in Djakarta and Singapore, September 1958. Here, as so many times before and after, Leroy spoke so movingly of Shoghi Effendi "that every eye in the audience was in tears". He had the power to evoke the life, the spirit and the very presence of the Guardian, and there are many of us who will remember him in eternity for this.

Shoghi Effendi sent Leroy to Frankfurt, Germany, in January 1956, to assist that National Spiritual Assembly with its project of erecting the first European Temple, and to consult on teaching. Again in July 1961 and in June 1962 he met with the German National Assembly on problems concerning the Temple.

Two memorable visits were made to the British Isles, the first in January 1955, on the occasion of the dedication of the British Haziratu'l-Quds during the annual Teaching Conference, and the second for the month-long commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of ‘Abdu'l-Baha's sojourn in Britain in September 1911. He participated in the Northern Irish Summer School celebration on the very date of the Master's coming (September 4th); then spoke in Edinburgh and at the national celebration in London on September 8th, after which he met the National Assembly in session and visited seven other communities in England and South Wales. It was a strenuous schedule for one not well, but Leroy's love for the Master carried him through as, in the words of the National Spiritual Assembly, he poured out "spiritual bounties" on the British friends.

For Leroy, teaching was "the creative phase of the Faith", the service which brought him the greatest happiness and for which he had a special genius. After the Guardian's passing and with the approval, sometimes at the request of his fellow Hands, he found more and more opportunities to visit Baha'i communities in many lands, always awakening in those whom he met a deeper love for the Master and the Guardian; a greater consciousness of the significance of the World Centre, of the functions of the Hands of the Cause and, after its election, of the Universal House of Justice; and, an increased determination to play an active part in the Ten Year Plan. These were his constant themes, the "spiritual realities"; to deepen understanding of them was, he believed, a particular responsibility of the Hands. He had always been a perceptive teacher - logical, persuasive, yet mild -but now, after his years in Haifa, wrote one Baha’i, "your spiritual power is . . . entirely irresistible".

In 1958 he participated in the Intercontinental Conference in Chicago and Wilmette, and later that year visited South Africa after the Conference at Singapore. In 1960 he attended the United States Annual Convention, spoke thrice at the Geyserville Summer School, and visited a number of communities in America. This was the year of his daughter Anita's marriage, followed closely by the unanticipated and tragic death of Farrukh, his elder daughter. Both had served the Faith internationally as pioneers, bringing much joy to their parents. In 1961 he met German Baha'is attending a regional conference in Frankfurt, and imparted "a new energy to the work" in Switzerland by visiting all twelve of their Local Spiritual Assemblies. In August and September 1962, though advised to rest for three months, he cut short his cure to go to Scandinavia (July 30- September I), for a teaching tour which included the Finnish Summer School in Lahti, a meeting with the National Spiritual Assembly and Board members, and stops in Helsinki and Turku; meetings in Sweden in Stockholm, Uppsala, Goteborg and Malmo; consultation with the National Spiritual Assembly of Denmark and gatherings in Copenhagen; participation in the Scandinavian Summer School near Halsingborg, Sweden; and visits to Bergen, Stavanger and Hetland in Norway. On his way to the first Summer School of Luxembourg (Echternach, September 4-6), he stopped at the Temple in Frankfurt. Although his public teaching was limited by his damaged heart, his meetings with the Baha’is brought them “wonderful contributions of knowledge, spirit and radiance".

The death of Shoghi Effendi in London in November 1957 had been for Leroy, as for the Baha'is of the world, a wholly-unexpected and grievous blow. Already he had overspent his health in the work of the World Centre. There followed his most taxing years when, as one of the nine Hands elected to serve in Haifa, he faced with them the incalculable problems of this unparalleled hiatus between the death of the divinely-guided Guardian and tbe birth of the divinely-ordained Universal House of Justice. That body bas paid memorable tribute to the services of the Hands of the Cause in this critical period. For Leroy, except when teaching, it was a troubled time, unfit as he was to sustain the stresses which beset them. The winter months of 1962-3 were particularly demanding, with the annual Conclave of the Hands, the crisis of the Moroccan persecutions, the final months of the Crusade, and the preparations for the first World Convention and election of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, to be followed immediately by the World Congress in London at the Albert Hall. In all this Leroy played his part. 

Unhappily, in London he contracted pneumonia at the opening of the World Congress and had to recuperate in Germany until the October meetings of the Hands with the Universal House of Justice, sessions leading to decisions of the greatest import for the future of the Faith. After these meetings he departed for the United States for further convalescence in Washington, D.C. and Bradenton, Florida, where his family, always loyal and affectionate, surrounded him. Never yielding, he held study classes in both areas.

The news of his intended American visit had been the signal for an invitation in July 1963 from the United States National Assembly to assist them in deepening the new believers and inspiring the community to greater teaching effort. They renewed their invitation in December; the opportunity to plan a tour of the South and West came when Leroy accepted an invitation from the Hands in the Western Hemisphere to attend their January conference in Wilmette with their Auxiliary Boards. Members returned from that conference "aglow with spirit and enthusiasm..." for the approaching Nine Year Plan and their roles in it.

Then followed Leroy's last magnificent service to Baha'u'llah. From February 22 to April 12, 1964, he travelled to meet the Baha’is of eight regions, in week-end gatherings in the following centres: Sarasota and Miami Beach, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans; Austin, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Phoenix, Arizona; Riverside and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, California. A photograph taken in Austin is evidence of the frailty of his physical constitution, which, strained by his heart and a now chronic bronchitis, was unequal to the magnitude of this teaching journey , and at its close his fatigue and weakness were such that he was unable to return to Haifa until October. But his spiritual powers were perhaps never greater, as he unfolded his lofty themes, made vivid for the Baha'is the "vital spirit emanating always from the World Centre," spurred them, particularly the youth, to arise as pioneers, and prepared them for the Nine Year Plan. He met nearly sixteen hundred believers, many of them newly-declared. And at the close, he represented the Hands in Haifa at the Annual Convention which launched that Plan in the United States.

Significantly, when in Atlanta and Greenville, South Carolina, he sensed the latent capacity of the Deep South to recognize Baha'u'llah. "The spirit of the entire area is afire," he informed the National Spiritual Assembly, "and if the blaze starts mounting you may have a conflagration ...” And he also remarked to them on a new development, that "nearly all of the new Baha'is are young people... the real source of the power for the rapid spread of the Faith..."

Too many to quote were the letters to Leroy of love and appreciation for this fruitful journey which crowned his closing years. While convalescing in Germany he received an encouraging message from the Hands in Haifa: "The House of Justice is aware of the great need for the type of deepening in the Faith which you have been able to give the friends in America, particularly the newer believers and young people who are entering the Faith in such large numbers." (August 20, 1964.) And a few days later came a tribute from the United States National Spiritual Assembly: "We cannot express in words how grateful we are to you and Sylvia for your visit and for the inspiration which you have given to so many hundreds of the newer believers." (August 25, 1964.)

It was fitting to include Sylvia, for she was ever Leroy's strong support, his champion, and his tireless companion in the last months of his life. He returned to Haifa in October, broken in health but rejoiced in spirit, surely, that he had carried out to the last ounce of his strength the Guardian's hope so long ago expressed: "You will, I am sure, persevere till the very end."

Leroy died, after some weeks in hospital, on July 22, 1965, at the age of sixty-nine, and lies buried in the Baha’i Cemetery on Mount Carmel, near to his fellow Hands and life-long colleagues, Amelia Collins and Horace Holley.

His death brought many testimonies of grief and admiration from Israelis in all walks of life. He was remembered in memorial services at the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, the Geyserville Summer School, and in Baha'i communities throughout the world. One will find Baha'i institutions bearing his name, and overlooking the town of Geyserville a Sequoia Redwood grove stands dedicated to his memory.

One co-worker spoke for all when she wrote to Leroy in 1958: "What I feel in my heart is, I am certain, echoed in the hearts of countless of the friends-deep and humble gratitude for the work you have done and the sacrifices made for our loved Cause."

We are assured by the Universal House of Justice that the name of Leroy Ioas is immortal in the annals of the Faith.

July 22, 1965 - Cable from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States:

(Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986)

[See Baha’i World 16 p. 77]
[1] Shoghi Effendi, cited in ‘The Baha’i Centenary’ (Wilmette Illinois, 1944), p. 171.
[2] Quotation from Circular No. 232, issued by the General Traffic Manager of the Southern Pacific Company, to announce Leroy's resignation over the entire nation ...
[3] The carved stone and components of these buildings were supplied from Italy by the Hand of the Cause Ugo Giachery, Leroy's task being to supervise their assembly and erection in Haifa.
[4] The naming of the door was announced by Shoghi Effendi in a message to the Intercontinental Conference in New Delhi, October 1953, acknowledging Leroy's "assiduous constant care..." (The Baha’i World vol. XII, p. 239.)

(Adapted from ‘The Memoriam’ section of the Baha’i World 1963-1968’, by Marion Hofman, and from ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

A talk by Hand of the Cause Leroy Ioas: “In the Days of the Guardian” – given in Johannesburg, South Africa, 1958

Please note that the audio file doesn’t have the opening portion. It starts from: “I mention this so you can see how Shoghi Effendi had an insight into everyone…”