Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.
A long time staple of the family-owned Mac's Deli in downtown Santa Rosa, Eshrat Soltani delighted customers and coworkers alike.
Soltani died Feb. 17 after a nearly six-month battle with lung cancer. She was 81.
“She was a tough, strong-willed woman,” said nephew Toraj Soltani.
Eshrat “Eshi” Soltani was born and raised in Tehran, Iran around 1932. Birth records were not maintained in the country at the time leaving her birthdate unclear, her nephew said.
Soltani attended college in Iran, becoming a teacher for the hearing impaired and giving sign language instruction to deaf children.
“She grew up in a country and a time when women weren't allowed to do much,” said her nephew. “She was amazingly strong.”
She immigrated to the U.S. in 1975, and continued her work in education as a volunteer teacher's aide at Windsor Elementary School.
“She volunteered there while I was attending school,” her nephew said.
Soltani became a vital part of the staff at her brother's deli, often arriving at the restaurant before dawn and becoming a key developer of the menu.
Soltani's sister, Azadeh Soltani, remembered an evening when she was closing up shop around 6 p.m. and her sister rushed in. Frazzled, Soltani thought she had slept in until 6 a.m., and missed opening the deli.
“We laughed about that one for a while,” said her sister.
Azadeh Soltani remembered Soltani as a “fun” person who enjoyed joking around with customers and loved working in the deli.
“She was a really important part of this business,” her nephew said. “She was of the old country (and) worked hard.”
Coworker April Reeves considered Soltani a “grandmother,” and noted how much she cared for everyone at Mac's.
“She loved all of us at Mac's like we were her own children,” Reeves said. “She was funny, sarcastic, loving and would do anything for anyone.”
Soltani is survived by her brother, Iraj Soltani of Santa Rosa; three sisters, Azadeh Soltani of San Rafael and Manijeh and Sudabeh Soltani, both of Iran. She is also survived by her nephew, Toraj Soltani of Santa Rosa; niece Tammi Christie of Healdsburg; and numerous nieces and nephews in Iran.
A gathering of family and friends will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. March 3 at Mac's Deli, 630 Fourth St., Santa Rosa.
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