Marion Carpenter Yazdi, Class of 1920

March 15, 2002
Santa Paula High School
By B. J. Harding, President, SPUHS Alumni Association Biography #169 (Have you submitted yours?)Born in Marcellus, Michigan to Crowell E. and Elizabeth Carpenter, Marion had a brother, Howard Carpenter, a member of the SPUHS Class of 1924, and a sister, Margery. In school Marion was an active student and served the school as society editor of El Solano. Among her classmates were Howard Sheldon, Louise Hardison, Lafe Brown, Milton Teague, Paul Churchill, and Artemas Strong, who served as student body president.Marion first heard about the Baha’i faith in 1912, when her mother read a newspaper article in the Los Angeles Times. Two years later her family learned more about the new religion from a door to door salesman. Her mother became a member of the Baha’i faith immediately. Marion joined in 1914. From then on throughout her life, her first love was Baha’i.Baha’i is not a sect of some other religion, it is an independent religion. Some of the principles emphasized are equality of women and men, the elimination of prejudice, universal education, religious tolerance, harmony of science and religion, and a world commonwealth of nations.Following graduation from SPUHS, Marion left Santa Paula for the University of California at Berkeley. In Berkeley she took part in all aspects of Baha’i work and was the first Baha’i student at the university. In 1923 she transferred to Stanford University, and went on to get her master’s degree in 1928.In her work at both universities Marion came to know old believers of Baha’i and began to take notes, realizing that someday the old believers would be gone. It is from these notes and memoirs she collected that she was able to publish her book “Youth in the Vanguard” in 1982, telling of her experiences in Baha’i.
Brother Howard also followed Baha’i and became a physician at Stanford. He and his wife, Marzieh Kahn, toured Central Europe and the Balkans teaching Baha’i. While in Haifa he became ill with Malta fever, and was then stricken with poliomyelitis and paralyzed from the waist down. After an agonizing two-month trip back to the United States, Howard died in San Francisco November 4, 1935.In August of 1926 Marion married Ali M. Yazdi, the second love of her life, whom she met while at the University of California in Berkeley. Ali, also a student of Baha’i, was from Persia, where Baha’i began in 1844. Together they had two children, Robert and Barbara, who, with their three grandchildren, have all been raised as students of Baha’i.Marion returned to Santa Paula in 1983 to present a copy of her book to the Blanchard Memorial Library and to talk with friends from her SPUHS days. Her lifetime of teaching and living Baha’i was ended in her daughter’s care in Wellesley, Massachusetts on February 2, 1996.

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