Darius K. Shahrokh:
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Darius K. Shahrokh loved the history of the Faith. The popularity of historical deepenings he offered in California in the early 1990s led to production of the 25-tape audio deepening series Windows to the Past, which has been distributed internationally and broadcast on Internet-based radioNUR.
Darius, a retired physician residing in Buncombe County, North Carolina -- and formerly a stalwart among the Wisconsin friends -- passed away March 20, 2005, during a visit to family in Austin, Texas.
He was born in 1931 and educated in Tehran, Iran. In 1955 Darius moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he was a medical intern. In 1956 he moved to Rochester, Minnesota to train for a medical specialty in ear, nose and throat at the Mayo Clinic.
At the request of an isolated, recently enrolled Bahá’í family in Marshfield, Wisconsin, Darius, Grace and their infant daughter moved there in 1960. He helped build that Bahá’í community through his historical deepenings and teaching activities.
His mother, Katayoon, whose pioneer services covered several decades, introduced Persian cooking to the central Wisconsin town on her visits.
Later the family moved to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He helped form the first Spiritual Assembly there and served on it for 24 years. He was also instrumental in the 1980 launch of Wisconsin’s summer Bahá’í school.
On retirement, the couple moved near Sacramento, California. Darius served at various times on two suburban Spiritual Assemblies and the District Teaching Committee. He helped organize regular children’s classes that continue to this day.
His lively retelling of historical events led to a popular series of deepenings in the Sacramento area. With encouragement and recording equipment supplied by friends, he embarked on the five-year project to record the Windows to the Past tapes.
Later, Darius relocated to Cedar Park, Texas, and Buncombe County, also serving on their Assemblies. He spoke at events and Bahá’í schools in Wisconsin, California, Oregon and Texas and also made teaching trips to Caribbean islands and to some Southern states.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Grace; daughters, Roya and Lorraine Nura; son Riaz; four grandchildren, one brother and three sisters.
Dr. Daryoush “Darius” K. Shahrokh received his medical degree from Tehran University of Tehran, Iran. In 1955 he moved to Detroit, Michigan where he interned at Woman’s Hospital in Detroit. While there, Dr. Delmar F. Weaver, MD, who noticed his fine hands and skill in surgery. encouraged him to apply for a Mayo Fellowship in 1956. Darius was astonished and joyous when his application was accepted. He completed a Mayo Clinic residency in otolaryngology in 1960. He also received a MS degree from the University of Minnesota. He told me he was the second or third Iranian at that time to be a Mayo Clinic fellow. He fell in love with Rochester, me and the wonders of Mayo Clinic, the kind and helpful staff doctors.
Darius was especially mentored by Dr. Henry Williams while at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Williams’ attention and sincere friendship made him very happy. Darius wrote his Masters thesis (University of Minnesota) on “Cancer of the epiglottis.” He was on a strict student visa which forbade any attempts to become resident of the United States, not even marriage to a citizen changed that status. Dr. Williams urged Darius to stay in the States, saying he would not be able to use his special skills in Iran due to lack of material such as surgical microscopes, fine instruments and assistants, lack of appreciation from his fellow countrymen.
When Dr. Williams learned of the student visa restrictions, he offered to ask his friend, Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, to pass a special bill in Congress allowing Darius to gain permanent residency. This happened with no delay. Darius and I were very relieved and grateful because as a Baha’i, Darius would no doubt have been targeted for harassment, lack of promotion, and eventually arrest, imprisonment and “disappearance” as happened to many Baha’is of achievement after regime change of 1979, continuing and escalating to this day. Darius wrote of his gratitude to then Vice President Humphrey who wrote back a kind reply of congratulations and commendation. One of the proudest days of his life was the day he attained citizenship in 1962.
He loved and revered the freedoms of the United States, and adored the flag. He said as a child whenever he saw the American flag in a movie, he would just long to be able some day to get to America, the flag was the most beautiful thing he could imagine and filled him with awe and longing. He recalled that his father, Arbab Kheykhosrow Shahrokh, member of the Iranian parliament, praised life in America. He was able to assist his mother, Katayoon Ghobad Shahrokh attain citizenship. She is buried in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where she lived with us for many years. Together, Katayoon, myself and eldest daughter Roya, created a cookbook, Cooking with Katayoon, family recipes that were perfected by Darius perfected in his retirement.
The other Mayo doctor that Darius mentioned as being especially kind and interested in him was Dr. Kenneth D. Devine. He praised Dr. Williams and Dr. Devine to me many times. I wonder if they realized how great was their encouragement and how deep an impression they made on the shy foreigner.
I met him in May 1957 in Rochester at a Baha’i meeting. We were married September 19, 1959. We have three children and four grand-children. When our children were young, Darius frequently stressed to them the importance of education and knowledge. They were expected to do well in school and they did with a minimum of supervision for their studies. All three graduated with honors from University of Wisconsin-Madison and have passed on the importance of education and integrity to their children.Our eldest daughter, Roya June Shahrokh, now living in Asheville, North Carolina, received her MBA from the University of California, Berkeley; Riaz Darius Shahrokh; and Lorraine Nura Shahrokh (now Nura Amerson) lives in Verona, Wisconsin, where she has worked for a medical software company Epic Systems for many years. Lorraine has two daughters, Layli the eldest, recently married to Sergey, just returned from serving the Baha’i Worlc Centre in Haifa Israel to pursue her PhD in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Jasmine, who graduated from University of Wisconsin and, like her mother, is also working at Epic Systems in Verona, WI. Both girls were honor students and advanced placement in Verona High School,Wisconsin.Darius found his life’s fulfillment treating Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) patients, especially restoring hearing to those suffering from otosclerosis with procedure of stapedectomy. He became Board certified in ENT specialty. After Roya was born in Rochester, Minnesota in 1960, we moved to Marshfield, Wisconsin where Riaz was born in 1961. Dr. Shahrokh spent one year working for the Marshfield Clinic. In 1962 our family of four moved to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin where Nura was born in 1965. Dr. Shahrokh worked for five years at the Fond du Lac Clinic. He then took a chance and opened his private practice in that community in 1967. After 20 years in private practice, he joined the Veteran’s Administration Clinic in Sacramento, California in 1987 where he was head of the ENT department for 10 years, until his retirement in 1997. He felt it a great honor to serve the veterans in VA clinic during his 10 years in Sacramento, California. He was very patriotic and appreciated the sacrifices of veterans. In retirement he developed several hobbies in addition to co-authoring the 25 audiobooks, Baha’i Windows to the Past. His hobbies included carving, mostly in wood, making exquisite figurines large and small; and cultivating an orchard of fruit trees where he made use of his surgical skills by grafting different varieties of fruits onto one tree. He also took up cooking Persian cuisine, perfecting his mother’s recipes in her cookbook, Cooking with Katayoon.
The Spring 2006 Mayo Alumni publication carried Darius’ obituary on page 31 which I had written and submitted. However, in transferring the information to the publication a few mistakes were made which are corrected in italics below:
“1960 Darius Shahrokh, 74, died on March 20, 2005 in Weaverville, North Carolina. [Should be in Austin Texas, as we flew there to visit our son, Riaz, and his family. On December 10, 2004, he had had a right lobotomy for glioblastoma, a deadly brain tumor. The day after we arrived in Austin, he suddenly became disabled and unconscious and passed away 5 days later in hospice care. He is buried in the Austin City Cemetery]”
He never forgot that the Mayo Clinic training was the basis for his very successful practice of ENT and with gratitude made a bequest in his will to support the Mayo Clinic tradition of excellence in training and treatment.
In 1992, Dr. Darius Shahrokh, a retired physician-surgeon, recorded some deepening talks upon the insistence of friends in his Bahá’í Community. These were first intended for local use. Then it became apparent that Bahá’í deepening and stories on audiotape met the needs of people in various circumstances, such as those with vision or reading problems, audio learners, isolated Bahá’ís, those with long commutes who want to listen to talks while driving, immigrants who find reading English difficult but are comfortable with spoken English. Also the tapes are useful for new Bahá’ís and Bahá’í youth who want to become rapidly well-informed about the Faith without having to purchase a lot of books.
In view of these needs, Dr. Shahrokh expanded the extent of material, which at this time has been obtained by approximately twenty-five National Spiritual Assemblies for aiding their teaching and deepening programs, with plans to translate into various languages.
Each program is the result of months of study of resources in both English and Persian. Most cassettes include a map, photos, and/or list of references. Dr. Shahrokh and his wife, Grace, who assisted with research and editing, have done their best to make the information as accurate as possible.
Some reference is made to Windows to the Past as stories, but it should be remembered that the stories are not intended to be entertainment, but to inform, elucidate, and inspire the listener. The essay tapes have relevant stories purposefully placed to lighten the concentration or emphasize a point.
Windows to the Past has been praised by listeners who state that the series is packed with information and inspiration and presented in a style that holds attention.