Kitty Irani: In Memoriam


April 10, 2018

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Our dearest friend and mentor Zerbanoo Gifford pens this beautiful obituary on the passing away of her beloved mother Kitty Irani.

The last of those who studied under the famous child psychologist Madame Montessori has died peacefully  in London. Kitty Irani nee Mazda was the third and  youngest child of Khan Bhadur Mazda and his wife Jerbanoo of the Khordad family of Pune. Kitty was born in Calcutta on 14th Nov 1924 where her father was one of the wealthiest  men having  created a mercantile  empire  from his hardwork and acute business sense.  He had been born in Yazd in Iran and had left and  walked to India a journey that took four years to seek a life of religious freedom. He gave his daughter Kitty his strength of character and moral compass. He also imbibed in her the absolute respect for the truth and when one gave one’s word one adhered to it. Kitty never broke her word once given .From her mother who died suddenly when Kitty was only sixteen she inherited her sense of glamour and passion for a full life.

Kitty married a childhood sweetheart Behram( Bailey) and after the birth of their daughter Zerbanoo named after her deceased mother  they left for a life in England.  Bailey with Kitty’s support was at the heart of the UK’s Zoroastrian community. Their Heritage Hotel in central London  was visited by all Zoroastrians during their time in the capital. Bailey served as a trustee and then President of the Zoraostrian Trust Funds of Europe. He was also present at the inaugrual meeting of the World Zoroastrian Organisation in Teheran hosted by the late Shah of Iran and  was then  asked to serve as the founder President of WZO. Kitty though never seeking the limelight was there to support and guide the community.

Kitty was mother to Zerbanoo  Gifford  and her sister  Genie and brothers Rustom and Naswan, grandmother to six devoted grandchildren  and three times a great grandmother. She played her greatest role as the matriarch of a strong and loving family. Not a day passed without her talking to  each of her children to ask what their news was. Not a day passed without Kitty going out either to a museum, or gallery as she not only loved art but was a gifted painter herself. Not a day passed without Kitty ringing friends worldwide to ensure they were well and had everything they needed to be happy. 

The famous Doctor to the Queen of England, the late George Pinker  had once said that ” He admired two great women. Elizabeth the  Queen and Kitty Irani.  They were both beautiful  women who  fulfilled  their duty with great dignity.   Their legacy would stand the test of time because it was based on service to be given selflessly to all .”