Florida Times-Union Editor Frank Denton has a deep apprecation for what he describes as Jacksonville’s “wonderful stew of international ethnicity.”
In a March 3 column celebrating the people who have moved from other countries to Jacksonville “for the freedom and opportunity that too many of the rest of us take for granted,” Denton profiles 1982 Jacksonville University graduate Mahshid Parsa Fatemi.
“She was 18 when she and her younger sister Mitra came here from Iran in 1977 in search of education,” Denton wrote of Fatemi. “The universities in Iran were too few and too full, but the sisters were welcome at Jacksonville University.
“Both graduated, but meanwhile, the Iranian revolution overthrew the Shah, and the ayatollahs replaced his tyranny with their own. So the two young women stayed here. Mitra went on to become a Jacksonville orthodontist, and Mahshid, who had studied computer science, began her career at Blue Cross.”
Fatemi raised a family and eventually opened Green Erth Bistro on Hendricks Avenue in San Marco.
“My kids always said, ‘Mom, you should have a restaurant.’ So I said I can do this, start a little healthy place. I don’t have to be a professional chef, a big shot,” Fatemi said in Denton’s column.
Fatemi says she raised her children to be both American and Iranian.
“I always loved this country,” Mahshid said in the T-U column. “Americans are the most generous, kindest people in the world.”
Here is Frank Denton’s column.