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January 24, 2005 - Monday, 9:54 p.m.
As my questions got more frequent, my father started to take a class at the Presbyterian Church. He was hoping to find some answers that he would be willing to pass on to his children. He found, much to his dismay, that the minister had very thoughtfully compiled answers given by a number of scholars of Christianity on a variety of topics. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the message my father got was that he could pretty much pick any of the answers that he felt compelled to believe and create his own set of beliefs. This left him feeling that there was nothing there to really hold onto and he began to look out into the world to see if he could find something that would have answers that made sense to him.
On day at work, a young man, a very new Bahá'í, was talking to a co-worker about his religion, and my father overheard the conversation. He went up to the young man, Jim Borland, and asked him if he could have something to read on this religion he was talking about.
The first book my father read was "Renewal of Civilization". He continued to return to Jim, asking him what book he could buy next. My mother said, he started bringing home books and would sit and read by the hours, completely captivated. She noticed that on Sunday mornings she'd get up and get us kids ready for church and my dad would sit quietly reading. She was surprised. The recent urgency to attend church seemed to have disappeared, and she tested him. The next Sunday she didn't get us ready for church, and my dad didn't say anything. He just sat and read.
He began to leave the books he'd finished reading at home for my mother to read. She wasn't terribly interested; however, she and her sister, Beverly, had been spending a lot of time talking about life after death. Their father had died in January of 1959. He was one of the kindest, friendliest, loving men they had known, but he'd never been much of a churchgoer and from what they'd been taught growing up, he was in Hell. They were having a very hard time believing that was possible. As they sat and discussed it on the phone, my mother said, "I wonder what Bahá'ís believe?" She started reading the books my father left around the house.
My father was continuing to look into the Faith. He started to attend meetings given in people’s homes for people investigating the Bahá’í Faith. They were called “Firesides”. Marguerite Sears gave the first fireside my father ever went to. Hand-of-the-Cause William Sears gave the second. We lived in the Milwaukee area and often got speakers out of the National Center in Wilmette, Illinois. It was an exciting time and place to be hearing about the Bahá'í Faith.My mother started to join him at the Firesides. All the presenters were deeply knowledgeable in religion in general, not just the Bahá’í Faith. My mother said that my father often mentioned how amazed he was that there was this religion that reflected the very things he already believed, and brought up new things that he’d not thought of before but found that he also believed. She mentioned that through his reading he would come across things and begin to adopt them into his life. She said one day he stopped drinking alcohol. She knew from her own reading that was one of the laws. When she mentioned to him that it wasn’t something he had to do until he was actually a Bahá’í, he told her, “When you find the truth, you follow it.”
On the way into fireside one evening in July, 1964, my Dad told my mother that he was going to declare that night (or become a Bahá’í officially). My mother was taken aback. Everyone they had met were so deepened in the Bahá’í Faith, and she felt until she was that knowledgeable she wasn’t ready to become a Bahá’í. She told my dad, “I don’t know, I’m not ready.” He responded by saying, “You're doing a lot of selling, how come you aren’t buying? My mother thought about it the rest of the way to the fireside. She very much believed in the Faith and was sharing it with everyone she knew. He was right. When they got to the fireside that evening they both declared. It was July 2, 1964 at the home of Al & Rose Kubala in Waukesha, Wisconsin.