Yervant Kotchounian

Armenian Literarian, Translator Yervant Kotchounian Passes Away


LOS ANGELES — Yervant Kotchounian was born on May 20, 1950, in Damascus, Syria. He was the youngest son of Garabed and Tshkhoun (Vanes Kehian) Kotchounian. He came to join his siblings Kalousd and Elmasd.

His mother passed away when Yervant was an infant. In 1958, with the help of his brother Kalousd, Yervant and his sister Elmasd were accepted into the Armenian Evangelical Secondary School of Anjar, Lebanon, where they spent the next ten years.

In 1968, Yervant moved to the capital city of Beirut where he attended Haigazian College for four years, graduating in 1972 with a degree in English literature. He taught at Shamlian-Tatigian High School in Beirut for two years after completing his degree. Yervant also hosted a radio program called Armenian Hour, which aired in Beirut. He also hosted another radio program that aired in Cyprus.

In 1974, he married Grace Varbedian and together they immigrated to the United States in 1975, where they settled in Los Angeles and where their children — son Todd, and daughter Tara — were born.

For many years, Yervant worked at Blue Cross in an administrative capacity.

At his core, however, Yervant was a man of letters. He loved words and ideas. In all languages. The best living examples of that are his children and their names. Todd is “tahd”—cause, the permanent Armenian call for justice. And his daughter is Tara — terra, land, the resolution that justice would bring. This is how he was in all things: he was true to himself, honest, and very, very smart. Sometimes even practical.

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His true passion was Armenian letters. He was a translator who sought to preserve and extend the essence of Armenian for its rich and expansive vocabulary while creating a bridge for Armenian writers to reach new audiences. He was the translator and editor of a number of scholarly and literary books. Some on commission; most out of love and curiosity. He had translated a series of adventure novels because he wanted them available to Armenian language readers. His writings appeared in all of the local Armenian newspapers, and he was respected as a theater critic.

He served as a jurist for many years for the Hamazkayin Tololyan Prize in Contemporary Literature, awarded to authors of various genres in both English and Armenian whose themes centered around Armenian issues.

Yervant had a passion for music and was always quick to sing or hum along. Especially if it was country music. He of course especially appreciated classical and Armenian music, and was an avid supporter of the Lark Conservatory, and the Dilijan Chamber Music Series.

He loved gathering with friends and family, sharing poetry and telling stories — a smile never far, and his booming laugh often filling the room.

In the past few months, he was in significant pain when he agreed to enter the hospital. On Friday, September 29, he had been in good spirits, laughing and talking. Later that night, he suffered a heart attack that greatly deteriorated his overall condition. After two weeks of treatment in critical care, Yervant died on Saturday, October 14, surrounded by loved ones.

He is lovingly remembered by: former wife, Grace Kotchounian; son, Todd Kotchounian; daughter, Tara Kotchounian; brother, Kalousd Kotchounian; sister, Elmasd Kotchounian Miller; niece, Nanor and Elie Tashdjian and family; niece, Houry and Zohrab Ghazarian and family; niece, Hasmig and Kevork Harboyan and family; nephew, Garo and Katie Kotchounian and family; nephew, Greg and Katrina Miller and family; and the entire Kotchounian, Miller and Varbedian families, relatives, friends and colleagues.

A celebration of life will be held on October 28 at 5 p.m., at Phoenicia Restaurant (343 N Central Ave, Glendale). In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that remembrances be made by supporting Abril Bookstore, or by donating to an Armenian literary cause in Yervant’s name.

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