DETROIT – Barbara (nee Zamanigian) Haroutunian passed away peacefully on January 12. She was the wife of the late John Haroutunian and the daughter of the late Leo and Victoria Zamanigian. Barbara received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education Degrees from Wayne State University, taught elementary school and became a principal in the Detroit public school system.
She was an active member of St. John Armenian Church in Southfield, Michigan, beginning with Sunday School and the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA). During her college years, she sang in the St. John Church Komitas Choir and years later became chairman of the church’s Women’s Guild. Barbara subsequently was elected to serve several terms on the Women’s Guild Central Council of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church.
Shortly after retirement, Barbara was called upon by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem to restructure the curriculum of the well-known St. Tarkmanchatz School there. Taking specialists in elementary education with her from the United States, she accomplished the task and won the hearts of Jerusalem’s Armenian community.
After numerous trips to Armenia, she was asked to teach English as a second language in the town of Ichevan, which she did for several years without hesitation. While at the school, Barbara observed that many of the classrooms were in dire need of repair. She singlehandedly, in one year, raised $25,000 which was sufficient to completely renovate many of the rooms in the school much to the delight of the teachers and the residents of Ichevan.
More recently, Barbara was asked to join a committee of international Armenian women, chaired by the wife of the president of Nagorno-Karabakh, to assist in the region’s reconstruction.
Barbara was active in many Armenian organizations; she was, in the past, a member of the Board of Education of the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian Day School in Southfield, Michigan; she was a Past Matron of the Daughters of Vartan Zabelle Otyag of Detroit and also served on the Grand Council of the organization from 1994-1996 and 2002-2005. Barbara was a devout member of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADL) and the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada (TCA). In addition, she was a proud member of the Armenian Heritage Cruise Committee for many years.