Born: June 2, 1913
Death: May 30, 2011
Place of Birth: Crookston, Minnesota
Location of Death: Wilmette, Illinois
Burial Location: Memorial Park Cemetery and Crematorium, Skokie, Illinois
A Minnesota native of Syrian heritage, Gayle Alice Abas was brought up in an Arabic-speaking Muslim family that explored the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh in the 1930s through friendship with Clement Woolson, a physician who had moved from New York in 1909 to raise a Bahá’í community in St. Paul and had met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His extended visit to America in 1912.
Family members who embraced the Bahá’í Faith included her father, Hassen Abas, who later established the Faith in North Dakota, along with her mother, Mahdie; brothers Julian and Gerald Abas, who worked to develop Bahá’í communities in Wyoming and Arkansas, respectively; her grandfather Kamel Hider; another brother, Murrie Abas; and sisters, Dahela Hick, Loroli Moore and Victoria Abas. Another brother, Edward, was a long-standing friend of the Faith.
Gayle Abas Woolson opened the Galapagos Islands to the Bahá’í Faith in 1954 — thus earning the distinction of Knight of Bahá’u’lláh — she was already a veteran pioneer for the Faith in Latin America. She had co-founded the Bahá’í community of Costa Rica, helped raise the first Local Spiritual Assembly in Central America, and served on elected National Spiritual Assemblies. She was also part of the first appointed Bahá’í Auxiliary Board serving the Americas.
A Bahá’í since 1932, she was part of a family that helped establish or consolidate the Faith in North Dakota, Wyoming and Arkansas. Passionate about spreading its healing teachings, she authored books on the Faith and provided valuable translation work. In later years she trained children in speaking to the public about Bahá’í principles.
She has written Haifa Notes which can be read here.
“Selected Profiles of American Bahá’í Women” bahai.us
Baha’i National Media Library