While many readers know that Pleasanton in the early 1900s was home to Phoebe Apperson Hearst, mother of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, many do not know that 100 years ago this month Mrs. Hearst hosted an internationally known religious leader who was traveling across the United States.

At Hearst's invitation, Abdu'l-Baha, the leader of the Baha'i Faith, visited the Hearst hacienda on the Pleasanton Ridge. According to a firsthand account of the visit by Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Abdu'l-Baha gave several talks throughout the day that echoed his numerous speeches delivered during his 239-day tour.

His key message was an invitation to America to advance spiritually by abolishing racial prejudices, empowering women as equals, recognizing the unity of religions and the harmony of science and religion and seeking to mitigate the extremes of poverty and wealth.

To celebrate the centennial of Abdu'l-Baha's visit to the Tri-Valley, the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'i's of Pleasanton invites everyone to the Pleasanton Veterans Memorial Hall from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 14, 100 years to the day after the visit.

Speakers at the celebration will include Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman; the Museum on Main's executive director, Jim DeMersman; curator, Ken MacLennan; and others.


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Abdu'l-Baha's visit to 50 cities between April and December 1912 included speaking engagements attended by thousands of Americans at meeting halls, universities, churches, synagogues and residences. His travels were recorded in hundreds of newspapers. Most of his travels were by train. While most of his time was spent visiting cities in the Midwest and on the East Coast, he spent 10 days in Canada and just more than a month on the West Coast.

The Pleasanton Veterans Memorial Hall is located at 301 Main St. For more information, contact Tina O'Neill at 925-989-3763. Readers are also encouraged to visit a website about the historic journey at www.centenary.bahai.us.

HELP A PET: Here's an opportunity to help disadvantaged pets while doing some early holiday shopping. Community members are encouraged to attend the "Holiday Sale for the Animals" Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Feline Medical Center, 3160 Santa Rita Road.

Proceeds from the boutique will benefit the "Jackie Barnett Just Like New Fund," which is a program of the Valley Humane Society that aids sick and injured pets.

The sale will showcase animal-themed and holiday gift items such as planters, garden art, wind chimes, ornaments, home and kitchen decor, purses, jewelry, greeting cards, and much more. For pampering cat or dog, toys and dishes will be available.

The Just Like New Fund was founded in 1995 by Pleasanton animal advocate Jackie Barnett, who passed away in 2009. The fund provides financial assistance to Tri-Valley residents who cannot afford emergency and lifesaving veterinary care for their pets. Since its beginning, the fund has helped save more than 400 companion animals.

For more, contact Cindy Ferrin at 925-323-8517, or visit the Valley Humane Society website at www.valleyhumane.org.

Contact Jim Ott at jimott@sbcglobal.net.