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|1962. 20 Jul
||The passing of Harlan Foster Ober (b. October 6, 1881 in Beverly, Massachusetts) in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa.
He had graduated from Harvard University in 1905 with a B.A. and later obtained a law degree from Northeastern University in Boston.
Harlan Ober became a Bahá'í at Green Acre in 1905. Another source said it was in the spring of 1906 in a room in the Commonwealth Hotel in Boston that he overcame his doubts while using a prayer and other literature given to him by Lua Getsinger. [LDNW23; 100-101; SBR120-121]
Hooper Harris and Lua Getsinger's brother, Dr. William Moore, were selected to make a teaching trip to India. When Moore died suddenly Harlan Ober was chosen to replace him. As he had no funds for the trip Lua borrowed the money from Mr Hervey Lunt, the father of Alfred Lunt. [LGHC105]
In 1906 he made a visit to 'Abdu'l-Bahá while He was still confined to prison.
On the 17th of July, 1912 he married Grace Roberts (aunt of future Hand of the Cause John Robarts) in a ceremony conducted by the Reverend Howard Colby Ives at 209 West 78th Street in New York. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited America in 1912 He had suggested that Grace Robarts and Harlan marry, and they both agreed with the match, with Harlan travelling to New York from Boston and proposing in Central Park after being informed of the suggestion by Lua Getsinger. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá performed the marriage ceremony in the room he was staying in in New York on July 17, 1912, and Howard Colby Ives later performed a legal ceremony. [SoW Vol 3 No 12 p14; Bahaipedia; The Jouney West, July 2012; Mother’s Stories: Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Early Believers told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall to her son, p. 20]
They adopted three children of English, German and Russian background.
It was from their home in Cambridge, MA, from the office of the National Teaching Committee, that the first Teaching Bulletin was issued on November 19, 1919. This bulletin evolved to the US Baha'i News.
He was closely involved with Race Unity work and made many teaching trips to the southern states with his friend Louis Gregory.
He served on the Bahá'í Temple Unity Executive Board as president or secretary from 1918 to 1920. The work of this board was taken over by the National Spiritual Assembly when it was elected in 1922.
In 1938 Harlan was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada and he served on it until 1941.
Grace passed away in 1938, leaving Harlan widowed.
He married his second wife, Dr Elizabeth Kidder Ober in Beverly, MA on the 21st of June, 1941. Shoghi Effendi was pleased with the way the marriage was conducted, without having any church ceremony or minister conduct the service. [BW13p869, 871]
After their pilgrimage in 1956 Harlan and Elizabeth Ober travelled to South Africa where they helped form the first all-African Local Spiritual Assembly in Pretoria as had previously been request of them by the Guardian. They returned in December as pioneers. [BW13869]
He was appointed to the Auxiliary Board for Protection in Africa in October of 1957 and served on the National Teaching Committee of South and West Africa for two years.
He was buried in the Zandfontein Cemetery in Pretoria. [BW13p870; Find a grave]
||Beverly MA; United States; Pretoria; South Africa
||Harlan Ober; Grace Robarts Ober; In Memoriam; US Baha'i News; Race Unity; Elizabeth Kidder Ober; Elizabeth Ober
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