Monday, December 06, 2021

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Ann Hallan Lakhdhir, 87

Ann Hallan Lakhdhir died May 7 at her home in Westport. She was 87.

Born in 1932 in Brooklyn, New York, she attended Brooklyn Friends School, graduated from Radcliffe College in 1954, and earned M.A. degrees in international relations and education from Columbia University.

In 1957 Ann married Noor A. Lakhdhir, then a recent immigrant from India whom she had met while they both lived at International House in Manhattan. 

Ann had wanted to join the Foreign Service, and had passed the written exam, but in those days women were not allowed to join or remain in the Service if they were married. Instead, she focused her interests and energy for the next 60 years on her family, and on addressing pressing domestic and international issues.

In the mid-1960s, Ann was one of the parent activists who pressed for the “pairing” of P.S. 7 and P.S. 8 in Brooklyn, thus facilitating one of the few voluntary desegregation initiatives in the city and nation.

Having succeeded in that endeavor, and with both her children attending the school, she initiated and ran a reading enrichment program at the school and then, seeking even greater involvement, earned a degree from Teacher’s College and began teaching there.

In late 1969, Ann and her family moved to Westport, as Noor’s job was then in Connecticut.  But she soon found herself commuting regularly to New York, first as a graduate student at Columbia and then, from the mid-1970s and for the next 40 years, as an activist promoting arms control and disarmament initiatives. 

Among other roles, she represented the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, a non-governmental organization, at the United Nations, and served as the head of program and then co-president of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security at the UN.

She organized innumerable forums at the UN and elsewhere on arms control and related issues, featuring leading experts from academia and governmental representatives, and edited scores of reports published by the UN, among other activities.

Ann was highly active in the League of Women Voters, both in Westport and nationally, lobbying that organization to take advocacy stands on arms control and other international issues, as well as on environmental and other issues. 

She was also passionately committed to promoting the education of children and young people in Asia and, together with her husband, supported the construction of libraries in India and Kyrgyzstan, and the donation of children’s books to them. 

Ann never wavered in her commitment to these issues.  In her final days, when her palliative care doctor first met Ann and asked what was important to her, the doctor was treated to a lengthy explanation of our mother’s frustration that so little progress had been made in reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. 

What is your more immediate concern, right now? the doctor continued.  Our mother didn’t miss a beat:  the election on Nov. 3, she responded.

So we ask each of you to vote.  If you wish to give a contribution in Ann’s memory, please give to the Union of Concerned Scientists or the Arms Control Association.

Ann is survived by Noor, her husband of 62 years, her son David Lakhdhir, an international lawyer based primarily in London, David’s wife Linda Lakhdhir, Ann’s daughter Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, a member of the Foreign Service and currently the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, her grandchildren Daniel and Rachel Lakhdhir, and Daniel’s wife Arielle Stedman Farkas.  She will be sorely misse.

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