Obituary: Hagop Arshagouni

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LOS ANGELES — Hagop Arshagouni, husband of the late Marilyn Altoon Arshagouni and father of Robert, Mary (Papazian), Michael, and Paul Arshagouni, passed away peacefully early Monday morning, June 5. He was 85.

Born in Piraeus, Greece in 1932 to Yeghia and Berjouhi (Tosjian) Arshagouni, originally of Sis (Kozan), Cilicia, he attended and graduated from the Zavarian Armenian School in Paleo-Kokinia, Greece. Although he grew up in Greece during a period of war and instability, he gained strength from his family and community. His father, Dr. Yeghia Arshagouni, a 1923 graduate of the American University of Beirut in dentistry, was an active community leader who nurtured his eldest son with stories of Armenian history, politics and culture. His mother, Berjouhi, created a warm and loving home life for Hagop and his younger siblings, brother Hrair and sister Ani.

An active participant in the Armenian community in Greece throughout his childhood, he brought that same love of family, community, and education with him when he traveled to Los Angeles in 1952 to continue his studies at UCLA.

Arshagouni met his beloved wife, Marilyn, while both were students at UCLA. They were married in 1956 and would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last year but Marilyn passed away before they could mark the anniversary. Theirs was a marriage of love, fulfillment, and deep commitment to family and community. They were blessed with four children and five granddaughters, as well as a far-flung extended family throughout Europe and North America whom they visited whenever they could.

Throughout their married life, Hagop and Marilyn worked side by side in the service of the community. Together, they served on the Armenian Monument Council and were an important part of the team that established the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Montebello, in 1968. In the 1970s, he served as treasurer of what later would become the Armenian Film Foundation in support of Dr. J. Michael Hagopian’s two important documentaries on the Armenian Genocide: The Armenian Case and The Forgotten Genocide. And it was his vision 20 years ago to create an Armenian History Timeline spanning more than 5,000 years of Armenian history on the winding sidewalk leading to the Ararat Home of Los Angeles. The Armenian Timeline was accompanied by an Armenian Timeline book and, for ten years, a Quiz Bowl for students in local Armenian schools, that focused on Armenia’s rich history as inscribed in stone on the Ararat Home walkway.

He was also strongly supportive of Marilyn in her 30 years as a teacher at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian High School, launching the first Ferrahian Walkathon to raise needed funds for the school. More recently, the couple became the “first fans” of the Ferrahian “Armens” boys and girls basketball teams.

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The couple was known for their many travels on which they chronicled the stories of their extended families who were dispersed across the globe as a result of the Armenian Genocide. Where ever they travelled — across America and Canada and to places as far away as England, France, Belgium, Greece, Norway, Lebanon, Argentina, and Armenia — they recorded the names and stories of as many family members as they could find. These efforts led to emotional family reunions and the establishment — or reestablishments — of family bonds that might have been lost without their efforts.

A voracious reader of books of biography and history, Hagop shared his love of history and learning with his children and grandchildren, and with anyone with whom he came in contact. He was deeply involved in the lives of his children, serving as Boy Scout leader and camp counselor at Camp Kessab, as well as taking his family on long summer vacations to historic points of interest, visits to family and friends, and camping trips to National Parks across the United States and Canada.

He leaves behind his children Robert (Manya), Mary (Dennis), Michael, Paul (Long), his five granddaughters Nina (Matt) and Liana Arshagouni, Ani and Marie Papazian, and Beth Arshagouni; his brother Hrair (Sonia); sister Ani (Panayotis), and countless nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends whose lives he touched.

He was laid to rest on Monday, June 12, at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, CA.

Topics: Obituary
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