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Asfar Emad

Persian matriarch, American diva

Afsar Emad, a longtime Claremont resident, died peacefully at home on Tuesday, November 26, 2013. She was 97. 

She was born on March 6, 1916 in Tehran, Iran.  She grew up in Tehran, manifesting her unyielding strength and fierce independence early on. When she reached the age of majority, she decided to live on her own and pursue a career.  Living alone, unmarried and having a career was an extremely rare and unacceptable lifestyle by the standards of the thousand-year-old customs in that traditional country. Women were not supposed to be independent. They were supposed to live in their parents’ home until they got married and moved to their husband’s home. Young Asfar broke that rule. 

She also broke the rule of arranged marriages. She found her own husband, a colleague at work, whom she encouraged to propose. She married her husband, Moheb Ali Sedaghat, when she was 24 years old and continued with her career with various governmental agencies, while raising her three daughters. She instilled the same spirit of independence in her three daughters, not just by teaching and preaching (which she did until the end) but also by being an excellent role model.

After Mrs. Emad retired and lost her husband, who predeceased her 45 years ago, she moved to the United States and made Claremont her second home. Until her late 80s she continued to live in both continents, traveling tirelessly back and forth between Claremont and Tehran. When her health no longer permitted it, she stopped traveling and Claremont became her permanent home. She lived independently until age 94, when she reluctantly gave up her independent living quarters and moved in with her daughters.

Mrs. Emad was both a Persian matriarch and an American diva, according to her family, who noted that she moved effortlessly between the two personas, demanding and receiving proper notice in both roles.

“She was the belle of any party or family gathering,” family shared. “She loved the spotlight and knew how to get it. She loved life and with her quick wit, her sharp sense of humor and her killer smile, shined like a star until the end.”

Her loved ones recalled that at her 95th birthday bash, with the aid of her walker, Mrs. Emad danced and managed to steal the spotlight again.

Mrs. Emad is survived by her three daughters, Homa Khalatbary (husband Shokry), Zeeba Emadi (husband Mansour) and Shahla Sabet, all of Claremont; by four grandchildren, Makan Emadi (wife Bonnie) of Claremont, Babak Emadi (wife Estella) of Irvine, Leyla Khalatbary (husband Dezi) of Seattle, Washington and Mele Wood of Claremont; and by five great-grandchildren, Dillon and Jazmyn Emadi of Irvine, Luka and Annika Emadi of Claremont and Nicole Wood of Claremont. 

Private services were held on December 6 at Oak Park Cemetery.

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