Marion Jack, “immortal heroine,” “shining example to pioneers,” passed from this life on March 25, 1954, in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she had been living for twenty-four years as a pioneer of the Bahá’í Faith. Marion Jack’s services in the Bahá’í Faith began early in the new century. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, on December 1, 1866, of a prominent family, she received much of her education in England and particularly in France, where she studied art.
She first learned of the Faith at a social gathering during her student days in Paris. From this time forward, her life was dedicated to the service of the Faith. She spent some time in ‘Akká and was there in 1908, where she taught English to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s grand-children. By 1914 she had returned to North America. She was one of the first to respond to the call of the Divine Plan of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, performing pioneer service in Alaska and teaching in Toronto, Montreal, and many other places.
In 1930 Marion Jack returned to Haifa and following this visit went to Sofia, Bulgaria, where she spent the remainder of her life. During the earlier years of this period, she attended the German Summer School and undertook teaching missions to Vienna and Budapest. As World War II approached, and all who could fled the country, the Guardian suggested that she go to Switzerland or to some safer place. She pleaded to be allowed to remain at her post, preferring, as she put it, to “remain at the switch.” Living on a small pension, which did not always reach her in recent years, suffering serious deprivation, aged and in poor health, she remained at her post. It was not without reason that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá used to call her “General Jack.”
In a letter dated June 17, 1954, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the British Isles, the Guardian, extols the standard set by Marion Jack as a pioneer:
“To remain at one’s post, to undergo sacrifice and hardship, loneliness and, if necessary, persecution, in order to hold aloft the torch of Bahá’u’lláh, is the true function of every pioneer. “Let them remember Marion Jack, who for over twenty years, in a country the language of which she never mastered; during war and bombardment; evacuation and poverty; and at length, serious illness, stuck to her post, and has now blessed the soil of the land she had chosen to serve at such cost with her precious remains, every atom of which was dedicated to Bahá’u’lláh.”
In a letter to the European Teaching Committee, dated May 24, 1954, the Guardian also stressed the quality of Marion Jack’s services to the Cause and the heroic conditions under which she lived and worked:
“For over thirty years, with an enlarged heart, and many other ailments she remained at her post in Bulgaria. Never well-to-do, she often suffered actual poverty and want: want of heat, want of clothing, want of food, when her money failed to reach her because Bulgaria had come under the Soviet zone of influence. She was bombed, lost her possessions, she was evacuated, she lived in drafty, cold dormitories for many, many months in the country, she re-turned, valiant, to the capital of Bulgaria after the war and continued, on foot, to carry out her teaching work.”
As requested by the Guardian, a Memorial gathering was held for Marion Jack in the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. A cablegram from the Guardian was issued:
“MOURN LOSS IMMORTAL HEROINE MARION JACK GREATLY LOVED AND DEEPLY ADMIRED BY ‘ABDU’L-BAHA SHINING EXAMPLE PIONEERS PRESENT FUTURE GENERATIONS EAST AND WEST SURPASSED CONSTANCY DEDICATION SELF ABNEGATIONS FEARLESSNESS BY NONE EXCEPT INCOMPARABLE MARTHA ROOT. HER UNREMITTING HIGHLY MERITORIOUS ACTIVITIES COURSE ALMOST HALF CENTURY BOTH NORTH AMERICA SOUTHEAST EUROPE ATTAINING CLIMAX DARKEST MOST DANGEROUS PHASE SECOND WORLD WAR SHED IMPERISHABLE LUSTRE CONTEMPORARY BAHA’I HISTORY. TRIUMPHANT SOUL NOW GATHERED DISTINGUISHED BAND COWORKERS ABHA KINGDOM MARTHA ROOT LUA GETSINGER MAY MAXWELL HYDE DUNN SUSAN MOODY KEITH RANSOM KEHLER ELLA BAILEY DOROTHY BAKER WHOSE REMAINS LYING SUCH WIDELY SCATTERED AREAS GLOBE AS HONOLULU CAIRO BUENOS AIRES SYDNEY TEHRAN ISFAHAN TRIPOLI DEPTHS MEDITERRANEAN SEA ATTEST MAGNIFICENCE PIONEER SERVICES RENDERED NORTH AMERICAN BAHA’I COMMUNITY APOSTOLIC FORMATIVE AGES BAHA’I DISPENSATION.” – Shoghi, Haifa, Israel, March 29,1954.