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October 2, 1928 - March 20, 2013
Azar Hammond (born Fatmeh Isfahani-Zadeh), 84, died in Los Angeles, California on March 20, 2013 at 3:35 a.m., twenty-seven minutes before the Spring Equinox and Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Her inspiration and love will never be forgotten. Born in Basra, Iraq and raised in Abadan, Iran, Azar was a dedicated student who was passionate about advancing her education. After working as a young girl as a comptometer operator in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, she was awarded a scholarship at the age of sixteen to attend the University of London, where she flourished in her new-found independence and earned the degree of Queen's Royal Nurse and Midwife. Several years later, in 1955, she became a student nurse at Ohio Valley General Hospital, in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she subsequently received her B.A. in Comparative Literature (with specializations in Russian and Arabic), the Certificate of Registered Nurse Anesthetist, commenced medical school, and met her husband, Peter B. Hammond. She also took flying lessons during this period, culminating with a solo flight over Pittsburgh, which made the front page of the Pittsburgh Gazette. After relocating with Peter to Washington, D.C. in 1964 shortly after the birth of their daughter, Alexandra, Azar campaigned for statehood advocate Julius W. Hobson, and embarked on a second career, this time in the arts. She thrived in the photography department of the Corcoran School of Art, where she managed the laboratory, chronicled the Corcoran Museum's exhibitions and regularly showed her photographs and paintings, many of which transposed the poetry of her beloved Omar Khayyam. When Peter accepted a job at U.C.L.A. in 1982, she moved with him to Manhattan Beach, California, where she resided for the remainder of her life, taking courses at U.C.L.A and Santa Monica Emeritus College. Sensitized at a young age to the suffering of all species, Azar was a lifelong pacifist whose empathy extended to nonhuman animals, becoming vegetarian at age fourteen and vegan at seventy-eight. Azar lived courageously with lung cancer for several years and passed away with dignity at her husband's Westwood home. She joins her father, Mohammed Saleh Isfahani-Zadeh, and her mother, Sakineh Tabrizi. She will be dearly missed by her husband, Peter B. Hammond, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at U.C.L.A., her daughter, Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at U.C. San Diego, and her many friends. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: https://secure2.convio.net/pcrm/site/Donation2?idb=1518618309&df_id=2820&2820.donation=form1th
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Apr. 12, 2013