Obituary: Mary Kevorkian

An angel has parted from us.

She was born in a refugee camp. Her mother Aghavni was pregnant with Mary Kevorkian (nee Der Sarkissian) when, in September 1922, Ataturk, continuing the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide, annihilated thousands of civilians in Smyrna, Turkey.

My grandmother Aghavni, along with her sister Anoosh and her two brothers Hampartsoom and Garbis, miraculously escaped the genocide and settled in Athens, Greece. Meanwhile, Mary’s father Minas Dersarkissian, having survived the Turkish slavery camps, settled in Antelias, Lebanon, and became a teacher in the Antelias Seminary School.

Soon after Aghavni learned that her husband Minas was in Antelias, both mother and child traveled to join him. Mary’s life began in the refugee camps. She became her parents’ friend in hardships as they traveled from Lebanon to Grenoble, France, and from there to Cairo, Egypt, when Mary was a mere child of five.

In Egypt, right after graduation, Mary served both as a nurse and as a treasurer for seven years for the Armenian Relief Society, tirelessly serving the vast Armenian community of Cairo. She was well liked and respected by her peers and the community at large.

Mary had a very thoughtful, sweet nature. She had a calm disposition with a zest for life and was always ready to work hard and long hours for people in need of help and for all the members of her loving family. She was indeed the quintessential Armenian woman and a most loving and caring mother, grandmother, wife, daughter, sister, mother-in-law, and friend.

When Mary was 17, her mother had severe back and leg pains. The family moved her from Cairo, where they lived, to Helwan, which had a much dryer climate, for a cure.

It took Mary three hours each way to travel between Helwan and Cairo. Every single day for nine months Mary traveled back and forth. Every afternoon, she would travel to Helwan to her mother to take care of her, then in the mornings she would travel back to Heliopolis, Cairo, to her home to tend to her father and her three brothers and prepare meals for them.

When Mary was 22, her mother was pregnant with her fifth child, Hasmig, and she was ready to go to the hospital. Mary stopped her mother and pleaded with her to have her baby at home. Mary’s intentions were very noble. She thought that by having her mother give birth at home, she would help her to deliver the baby and that way she would be able to thank her mother for bringing her into this world and for having taken good care of her, while all alone in the refugee camps in Athens, Greece.

Along with Mary’s dedication, sweetness, and kindness towards her children, Seervart and Khatchig, and her grandchild Nvair, she also taught them to be good citizens of whatever country they lived in, and to know their rich Armenian heritage, their language, and their culture, so that they too could pass these on to future generations. Mary was an avid reader and read all the news pertaining to Armenia until her last days.

Mary will be greatly missed by her loving children, her grandchild, her brothers, her sister, her son-in-law, her relatives, and her friends. Indeed she left us all a great legacy, with her own life as an example, to be righteous, kind, and as Christianity has taught us, to love one another. We wish a happy journey to our very loving, kind and sweet mother Mary, with all our love.

—Seervart, Khatchig, and Nvair

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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