Dr. Daryoush “Darius” K. Shahrokh received his medical degree from Tehran University of Tehran, Iran. In 1955 he moved to Detroit, Michigan where he interned at Woman’s Hospital. While there, Dr. Delmar F. Weaver, MD, who noticed his fine hands and skill in surgery, encouraged him to apply for a Mayo Fellowship in 1956. Darius was astonished and joyous when his application was accepted. He completed a Mayo Clinic residency in otolaryngology in 1960. He also received a MS degree from the University of Minnesota. He told me he was the second or third Iranian at that time to become a Mayo Clinic fellow. He enjoyed the small city of Rochester, the culture of Mayo Clinic, and the kind and helpful staff doctors.
Darius was especially mentored by Dr. Henry Williams while at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Williams’ attention and sincere friendship made him very happy. Darius wrote his Masters thesis (University of Minnesota) on “Cancer of the Epiglottis.” He was on a strict student visa which forbade any attempts to become resident of the United States, not even marriage to a citizen changed that status. Dr. Williams urged Darius to stay in the States, saying he would not be able to use his special skills in Iran due to lack of material such as surgical microscopes, fine instruments and assistants, and impeded by prejudice towards Baha’is.
When Dr. Williams learned of the student visa restrictions, he offered to ask his friend, Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, to pass a special bill in Congress allowing Darius to gain permanent residency. This happened with no delay. Darius and I were very relieved and grateful because as a Baha’i, he would no doubt have been targeted for harassment, lack of promotion, and eventually arrest, imprisonment and disappearance as happened to many Baha’is after regime change of 1979 in Iran, sadly continuing and escalating to this day. Darius wrote of his gratitude to then Vice President Humphrey who wrote back a kind reply of congratulations and commendation. One of the proudest days of his life was the day he attained citizenship in 1962.
He loved and revered the freedoms of the United States, and adored the flag. He said as a child whenever he saw the American flag in a movie, he would just long to be able some day to get to America, the flag was the most beautiful thing he could imagine and filled him with awe and longing. He recalled that his father, Arbab Kheykhosrow Shahrokh, member of the Iranian parliament, said that to be a janitor in America was superior to having highest position in Iran. He was able to assist his mother, Katayoon Ghobad Shahrokh attain citizenship. She passed away in 1986 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where she had lived with us for many years. Katayoon, eldest daughter Roya,and I created a cookbook, Cooking with Katayoon, family recipes of favorite Persian dishes.
The other Mayo doctor that Darius mentioned as being especially kind and interested in him was Dr. Kenneth D. Devine. He praised Dr. Williams and Dr. Devine to me many times. I wonder if they realized how great was their encouragement and how deep an impression they made on the shy foreigner.
I met him in May 1957 in Rochester at a Baha’i meeting. We were married September 19, 1959, and were blessed with three children. When our children were young, Darius frequently stressed to them the importance of education and knowledge. They were expected to do well in school and they did with a minimum of supervision for their studies. All three graduated with honors from University of Wisconsin-Madison and have passed on the importance of education and integrity to their children. Our eldest daughter, Roya June Shahrokh, lives near Asheville, North Carolina, received her MBA from the University of California, Berkeley; son Ross has two sons, William, a practicing attorney,and Maxwell, college student and on Dean’s list for excellence. Youngest daughter Lorraine Nura, married to Robert S. Amerson, lives in Verona, Wisconsin, where she works for medical software company Epic Systems. They have two daughters, Layli, married to Sergey Miron, presently at the University of Pennsylvania working for PhD in English. Jasmine, graduated from University of Wisconsin,and works at Epic Systems, Verona, WI.
Darius found his life’s fulfillment treating Ear Nose and Throat patients, especially restoring hearing to those suffering from otosclerosis with procedure of stapedectomy and prosthetic implant. He became Board certified in ENT specialty. After Roya was born in Rochester, Minnesota in 1960, we moved to Marshfield, Wisconsin where Ross was born in 1961, and grandmother Katayoon came to live with us. Dr. Shahrokh spent one year working for the Marshfield Clinic and in 1962 we moved to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where Nura was born in 1965. Dr. Shahrokh worked for five years at the Fond du Lac Clinic, and decided to open his private practice in that community in 1967.
In 1986 we moved to California where he joined the Veteran’s Administration Clinic in Sacramento, California. He was appointed to be the head of the Ear, Nose, Throat department until his retirement when we moved to Cedar Park, Texas in 1997 and then to Weaverville, North Carolina in 2000. He felt it a great honor to serve the veterans in VA clinic during his 10 years in Sacramento, California. In retirement he developed several hobbies in addition to co-authoring the 25 audio-books, Baha’i Windows to the Past. His hobbies included carving, mostly in wood, making exquisite figurines large and small; and cultivating an orchard of fruit trees where he made use of his surgical skills by grafting different varieties of fruits onto one tree.
Darius K. Shahrokh, M.D. 74, died on March 20, 2005 in Austin, Texas. We had traveled there to visit our son, Ross, and his family. A few days after we arrived, he became ill and passed away in hospice care. The funeral took place on March 22, 2005. Numerous Austin area friends attended as he was well-remembered and cherished from the time we lived there for three years. Burial was in the Austin City Cemetery.
He never forgot that the Mayo Clinic training was the basis for his very successful practice of otolaryngology and with gratitude made a bequest in his will to support the Mayo Clinic tradition of excellence in training and treatment.