Firuzan "Fifi" A. Wetherhead
November 26, 1941 – July 19, 2019
Firuzan A. Wetherhead passed away on July 19, 2019 at Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, Texas after a recent illness. She was known locally as “Fifi”, a nickname that arose spontaneously during square dancing, as quick introductions were necessary when the “change partners” command was given.
She was born in Istanbul, Turkey on November 26, 1941 along with her twin sister Tuna. The oldest sister Suzan, immigrated to the United States in 1954 to practice medicine. In the following years she successfully brought her three sisters Suna, Tuna and Firuzan to America for a fresh start.
Fifi graduated from Iowa City High School in 1961, the University of Iowa in 1965 and earned her Masters degree in Literature from the University of Dallas in 1972. She married Henry “Hank” Beardsley in 1964 and they had two sons: Warren K. Beardsley and James “Jimmy” A. Beardsley.
She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Richard A. Wetherhead; three step-children: Don (Anita), Ann, and Martha “MJ” (John Conway) Wetherhead; her twin sister, Tuna Finley of Maryland and by nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by both her sons, Warren in 2015, and James in 2017, her two brothers Emal and Endir, and two sisters Suzan White and Suna Wilson.
Living in England suited Fifi culturally, and the years, 1973-78 were pivotal. James was born in London and she also met the love of her life, Richard. They were married in Dallas on September 26, 1981 and moved to Houston in 1982 where they remained. In 1987 they joined Fair Haven United Methodist Church and have been active members. Fifi opened a School of English and taught English as a second language. She developed long term friendships with many of her students, giving them guidance and skills that changed their lives.
Fifi and Richard’s own lives were dramatically changed when they discovered NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) after years of struggle and searching for answers to help their son Jimmy. NAMI gave them education, support and strategic guidance and led Fifi to her life’s purpose.
She became the backbone of NAMI—West Houston, working to make their name and services more widely known to those in need. Fifi brilliantly recruited sharp, passionate people to top roles while she implemented her vision from just off-stage. Her leadership style was gentle yet persistent and direct, always increasing the scope of services and raising awareness about mental illness and solutions. She provided resources at every level, from serving as member of the board to working directly with families struggling with a loved one with mental illness.
Even in her relaxation she was never idle, always reading or knitting or gardening. She created a verdant backyard oasis that remains a comfort. She will be remembered as a devoted wife and mother, a wonderful teacher, a dear friend to many and a significant community member. It was through transmuting her own sons’ struggles via NAMI that she launched her legacy of hope and help for untold families.
Family and friends gathered and shared memories during a visitation from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 15 at Waltrip Funeral Directors in Houston, Texas. A memorial service, celebrating this wonderful woman’s life, began at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, August 16 in the sanctuary of Chapelwood United Methodist Church – Fair Haven Community. Reverend Robert “Bob” Luton and Reverend Andy Cunningham, officiated. A reception followed in the Trinity Center.
Please make any memorial contributions to NAMI in Fifi’s name via www.namigreaterhouston.org or to NAMI Greater Houston, 9401 SW Fwy, Suite 1234, Houston, Texas 77074.
- NAMI of Greater Houston
- Visitation Thursday, August 15, 2019
- Memorial Service Friday, August 16, 2019
Firuzan "Fifi" A. Wetherhead
August 19, 2019
Thanks for the love and care you gave Dad all these years.