NEW YORK (Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America) — For nearly 30 years she was the beautiful face that greeted visitors to the St. Vartan Cathedral complex; the sweet, Armenian voice callers would hear when they telephoned.
This week, our dear colleague on the Diocesan staff, Maral Serce Dechkounian, passed away after a long, patient battle with cancer. Her longtime co-workers will smile to remember the shy, slightly nervous young woman who first took up the receptionist’s role at the cathedral, so many years ago. Very quickly, though, we discovered to our delight Maral’s multi-faceted nature: her warmhearted generosity and hard-won wisdom; the mischievous sense of humor she shared with her sisterly friend Noune Sukiasian; her unassuming style that could suddenly blossom into cosmopolitan glamour.
She would be our most ardent cheerleader during the little triumphs of our lives. But she was also a confidant who listened to our private cares. And Maral was a fearless advocate, whenever an injustice needed correcting, or a hard truth needed to be expressed. Over the years, her beautiful qualities became fixtures in our lives: we thought her presence would always be with us — ready to welcome us as we opened the door to a new day.
Most of all, we marveled at the profound spiritual fortitude that sustained Maral through life’s blessings and travails, from her native Beirut to New York. It was never more evident than during the last, years-long battle of her life. Unsurprisingly, she was a tower of strength, patience, and grace. Our hero.
Her friends feel today as if we have lost a member of our family. But Maral had a wonderful family of her own, whose grief at this moment is uppermost in our thoughts. To her mother, the great Deegin Jaqueline; to her children Tamar and Jack and their families, we extend our deepest sympathies, and above all our love.
We will never forget our lovely kouyrig Maral. God has surely received a brave, beautiful soul this week; but He has left us all so much poorer. May she be at peace for all eternity in His kingdom.