FORT LEE, N.J. — Lucille Aroosian died on September 16. She was 94.
She was born August 19, 1922, in Paterson, New Jersey, the daughter of Bedros and Nafina Aroosian, who was an Armenian Genocide survivor and the only surviving adult of the large prosperous Shekerlemedjian family of Diyarbakir, Ottoman Turkey.
She was a graduate of Pace University and was an executive at Pittston Stevedoring Company in New York City for more than 40 years where she retired as an officer in the company. Pittston President Robert Chiarello said of Lucille’s role in the company: “She was the compass of the company. A forceful influence, an oasis of insight, determination and drive. She never accepted less than what was right, just and fair. And she knew what was right.”
A passionate supporter of human rights and social justice causes, she worked tirelessly for the Armenian victims after the 1988 earthquake.
She was an ardent supporter of progressive social justice causes and human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Doctor’s Without Borders. At 89 in 2011, she was at Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan with Robert Jay Lifton’s Wellfleet group. Among Armenian organizations, her favorites were the Armenian Tree Project, Project SAVE. She was a long time member of the Presbyterian Church of Englewood, New Jersey. She (and her late sister Gladys, who was a genocide survivor) figure prominently in her nephew Peter Balakian’s prize-winning memoir, Black Dog of Fate.
A beloved matriarch of the Aroosian-Balakian family, she was predeceased by her sisters Gladys and Alice and is survived by her sister Arax Balakian, and her nieces Pamela and Jan Balakian, Lynn and Karen Derderian, her nephews Peter and Jim Balakian, and great nieces and nephews Sophia, James, Alexandra, Katherine, and Nicholas.