Author, Poet, Former Mirror-Spectator Editor Helene Pilibosian Sarkissian Dies


HeleneWATERTOWN — Helene Pilibosian Sarkissian died on December 5, at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. She was 82.

Funeral services will be held at Armenian Memorial Church in Watertown, on Monday, December 14, at 11 a.m., followed by interment at Ridgelawn Cemetery in Watertown.

She leaves her husband of 55 years, Hagop Sarkissian, daughter Sharon Hekimian and her husband Gregory Hekimian, son Robert Sarkissian and his wife Audrey Dow, grandson Joshua Hekimian and his wife Sara Hekimian, and granddaughter Emily Overstreet and her husband Simeon Overstreet.

She was predeceased by her parents Khachadoor and Yeghsa Pilibosian and her sister Lucia Barooshian.

Helene, owner of Ohan Press, was born in Boston to survivors of the Armenian Genocide. After graduating from Watertown High School, she attended Harvard University and graduated with a degree in humanities in 1960, before marrying Hagop Sarkissian.

She was the first woman editor of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator.

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The 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was commemorated in 1965. The anniversary released a flood of articles on the subject to be published in the newspaper. On April 24, the day of commemoration, she put out a special issue about the Armenian Genocide and sent it to members of Congress, President Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Her editorial called “Out of Smoldering Ashes” was subsequently published in the Congressional Record. She also wrote about Lord Byron’s study of the Armenian language at the Mekhitarist Monastery in Venice, about the history of Watertown, about the Armenian collection at the Watertown Public Library and about the federal grants for a bilingual program in the public schools. She reviewed many books by Armenian-Americans, finding her calling writing.

She traveled in Europe and Lebanon twice, then founded her Ohan Press 1983 with the publication of Carvings from an Heirloom: Oral History Poems. She then published At Quarter Past Reality: New and Selected Poems (first prize from Writer’s Digest), History’s Twists: The Armenians, (honorable mention). Her poems have been published in many magazines and anthologies, winning several prizes. Her early poetry has been cited in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature.

They Called Me Mustafa: Memoir of an Immigrant, which she co-wrote with her father and published, was honored at a Massachusetts State House Armenian Genocide commemoration and was licensed by Alexander Street Press for an electronic database. She published My Literary Profile: A Memoir, which won an honorable mention from the New England Book Festival 2012, and her last book was A New Orchid Myth (sci-fi poetry) from CreateSpace, which won honorable mention from Writer’s Digest.

Arrangements are made by the Giragosian Funeral Home.