By Cyrus Kadivar
Farhad Sepahbody: 20 August 1929- 6 April 2014
H.E. Ambassador Farhad Sepahbody, a distinguished career diplomat during the reign of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, died in exile at his home in Sedona, Arizona, on Sunday, 6 April 2014.
Born on 20 August 1929 in Geneva he was the son of another diplomat, Anushiravan Sepahbody, a descendant of Prince Abbas Mirza, a Qajar warrior and son of Fath Ali Shah Qajar.
As a boy, Farhad Sepahbody was raised in Switzerland, Italy, Russia, France, Spain, Turkey, and Egypt where his father was posted in the 1930s. His mother was a cultured and sophisticated Persian lady from an illustrious family. During the Second World War as the Germans approached Paris, Farhad and his parents and two sisters fled France for Spain and returned to Iran.
Farhad Sepahbody was educated at the University of Paris (1949), School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington DC, and New York University. (B. Econ.1953). He later joined the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1955, served in Iranian embassies in Switzerland, USA, UK, France, and at the UN, and was Ambassador to Morocco (1976-1979).
Sepahbody was at his post when the Shah and his entourage arrived in Rabat from Aswan a week after flying out of Iran at the height of the Khomeini-led revolution. After the fall of the monarchy in February 1979 and the execution of his cousin, the former Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda by the new Tehran regime, Sepahbody resigned from the foreign ministry and settled in New York with his wife, Angela.
Sepahbody remained in touch with Iran’s fallen ruler during the latter’s 18-month odyssey and spent a few weeks in Mexico helping the Shah with recording and organising his memoirs published shortly before the emperor’s death in Cairo in July 1980.
Farhad Sepahbody who was fluent in Persian, English, and French continued to work as Press Consultant to the UN, New York, diplomatic correspondent for Imapress, Paris 1985-2003. Throughout his life, Sepahbody enjoyed indulging his passion for skiing, riding, piloting, writing and cats. He once owned a pet lion which he donated to an Iranian zoo. As a diplomat he was charming and unabashedly devoted to his country and king. He belonged to a generation of Iranians who believed in a modern, strong and internationally respected Iran destined for greatness and proud of her long history and civilization.
Despite his services to the peacock throne and support for many of the achievements of the Pahlavi dynasty, the ex-ambassador did not shirk from admitting that certain mistakes had been made. However, he remained ferociously loyal to the memory of the pioneering men and women who built Iran under Reza Shah and his son, both victims of their pride and unbridled imperial ambitions. He also condemned the atrocities perpetuated by the revolutionaries during the past three decades.
Diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a year to live he moved to Arizona in 1992 with his wife where he lived on a ranch. Having proved his doctors wrong he went on to enjoy a long life.
A patriot and a good-natured man, Farhad Sepahbody was much loved by his family and friends. Politically he remained a monarchist but also an advocate of freedom and democracy for his beloved homeland and compatriots. Most of his articles published on the internet were nostalgic, funny and informative, aimed at keeping his memories of another Iran alive among several generations of Iranians at home and abroad. “Someone once said that writing and expressing can heal,” he once commented. “It can focus, support, and enhance our lives and well-being. Whether we laugh or we cry, whether through sorrow or joy, we can understand more about ourselves, and each other, through writing.” Up until the last day of his life Farhad Sepahbody was busy writing and managing the website of the Shah’s widow, Empress Farah Diba.
He is survived by his wife and son Dr Cyrus Sepahbody and other relatives.
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