NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — Marilyn Altoon Arshagouni, wife of Hagop Arshagouni and mother of Robert, Mary (Papazian), Michael, and Paul Arshagouni, passed away peacefully on February 14, surrounded by her loved ones.
Born in Los Angeles in 1935 to one of the earliest Armenian families to settle in the Los Angeles area, Marilyn lived a fulfilling life of dedication to the Armenian community. A brilliant student from her earliest years, Marilyn graduated from Marshall High School in Los Angeles with highest honors and attended UCLA, where she became the first student at the university to be elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society as a junior. She graduated with a BA in English in 1956 with highest honors and went on to receive her teaching credential and complete her graduate studies, also at UCLA.
A dedicated educator and lover of the arts, she became a teacher of English literature and history at the Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian High School in Encino, which she served for over 25 years, touching and transforming the lives of generations of students.
Marilyn met her husband, Hagop Arshagouni, while both were students at UCLA. They married in 1956 and would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this September. Theirs was a marriage of love and shared commitment to their family and community.
While in graduate school at UCLA, Marilyn met the then young graduate student of Armenian history, Richard Hovannisian, who asked her to edit his dissertation. This work became the classic Armenia on the Road to Independence. She then went on to edit the first volumes of his History of the Republic of Armenia. This led to a lifetime of contributions to the Armenian community.
Together with her husband, Hagop, Marilyn was an active participant on the Armenian Monument Council that spearheaded the establishment of the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Montebello. She was involved in the first conferences in Airlie, Va., that established the Armenian Assembly of America, contributed a year-long feature page for the California Courier titled “Whispers of Armenia” to introduce Armenian literature, history, and culture to the growing California Armenian community, and was a driving force behind the creation of the Armenian timeline project at the Ararat Armenian Home.