LOIS HAINSWORTH MBE (1927-2016) – AN IMPRESSIVE FUNERAL
Along with General Secretary and Chief Executive Dominic Cooper, I attended the Funeral Ceremony for Past President Lois Hainsworth in October at the Chapel of the More Hall Convent near Stroud. After the death of her husband, Philip, who some will remember from the highly successful first Gibraltar Conference in 1998, Lois had moved to Gloucestershire, and we saw less of her in London.
Lois was my Vice-President in 1995-6, and was the first of the two-year Presidents who have taken office since 1996. She was also the first woman President for many years. This was particularly significant in view of Lois’s commitment to the equality of women, something that was supported by her attachment to the Baha’I faith. This is one of the world’s youngest religions, founded by Baha’u’llah in Persia in the 19th century. I know little of his history and will only say that he appears to have been a latter-day Psalmist, to judge by the readings given at the funeral. The Baha’i service abundantly demonstrated the faith’s articulacy and international nature, with prayers in Arabic and Russian.
And there was also music, for Lois was a trained singer and music played a big part in her life. I well remember a Glasgow CIoJ Conference when she and I escaped briefly to hear a lunchtime recital in the city. So we had Mozart, Puccini, Bach, Richard Strauss and Elgar as intermissions in the service.
As well as four portraits of Lois at different times in her long life, the order of service carried messages from the Universal House of Justice of the Baha’i and from the National Spiritual Assemblies of Uganda and Hong Kong. Lois and Philip had spent some years in Uganda as part of the mission to that country.
Though I could not stay for the interment at Brimscombe Cemetery or the following reception at Minchinhampton, all in all it was a memorable day and reminded me too of Lois’s years of service to the Institute.