Paul Kazarosian Raised His ‘Bar’ Another Level

HAVERHILL, Mass.—Paul Kazarosian was a man of many words.

As a venerable attorney in the city of Haverhill, he could defend any cause with a voracious appetite for justice, stand toe-to-toe with any opposing justice, and bring homage where it was due.

The same could be said away from the courtroom where Mr. Kazarosian was a born storyteller, whether it was politics, sports, current events, or his beloved Armenian identity.

In short, the man was never at a loss to give his language and mind a workout, especially when he gathered with his cohorts at the Monday Evening Club where conversation became a work of art.

His death on Feb. 5 closed the book on a prominent career which included 53 years with the Massachusetts Bar, not to mention an honorable military stint with the U.S. Army in World War II, a wealth of family successes and a host of community activities that bore civic pride. He was 86.

Paul Kazarosian was a Renaissance man whose outlook on life was seen through rose-colored glasses and a sunny disposition. His honesty and integrity amplified his humanitarian pursuits, governed by education and human kindness.

He was always willing to share his genius—the genius of friendship.

His last five years were spent at the Hannah Duston Nursing Home, overcome with Alzheimer’s. The disease may have ravaged his mind, but not his spirit. You could hear him sing his Armenian folk songs in the corridors and inside his room, greeting one and all with a pleasant disposition.

Mr. Kazarosian was a student of Armenian history. As much as he knew, there was capacity for more and he never hesitated in imparting his knowledge, whether it was at one of the firm’s popular Christmas parties or more formal occasions.

The Monday Evening Club turned into a Kazarosian soapbox—a social gathering of conversationalists who met in homes and talked the night blue. An avid historian, he never hesitated to convey his political opinions and relished the debate.

To gain the edge, you had to catch him on an “off” night. Even then, he would take the mandatory count standing up.

As the son of Armenian Genocide survivors, Mr. Kazarosian fashioned a self-made career out of persistence. With a father who worked as a barber in the city and a mother who toiled the shoe shops, he put himself through Harvard at a time when education was at a premium, then the Sorbonne in Paris where he drove a cab to pass himself off as a Frenchman and earn a few extra francs.

Had you been at his wake, you would have heard a litany of testaments from family and friends alike. Daughter Marsha, also a successful attorney, recalled how her Dad influenced her career.

“He was my Dad, my boss, and my mentor,” she confirmed. “If he were here this evening, he would have been serving wine or pilaf. He was a consummate host at every gathering. And yet he was humble. My father’s favorite briefcase was a Demoulas shopping bag.”

A grandson’s praise came from Marc Moccia who revealed how his grandfather worked on a farm and a shoe factory before starting law.

“He was always teaching me something, whether it was some practical lessons in life or the names of every United States president,” Moccia brought out. “He once told me that old lawyers never die—they just lose their appeal.”

Retired Haverhill District Court Judge Kevin Herlihy said he never knew a better lawyer than Mr. Kazarosian, calling him a specialist in his field.

“He never forgot his roots,” added Herlihy. “Paul was the perfect blend of a small town and a big city attorney. He represented his profession and city with extreme loyalty.”

After losing his Dad in World War II, John Nazaretian recalled how Mr. Kazarosian served as a surrogate father to him.

“He taught me discipline and set an example of loyalty,” said the former Haverhill Gazette reporter. “Paul was the best friend I ever had—a brilliant mind that never stopped working. He made me learn the capitals of every state.”

It did Mr. Kazarosian proud to see his daughter materialized into one of the more astute lawyers in the state and watch a third generation unfold in the practice. He shared the gratitude with his wife Margaret, a consummate educator and music instructor in Haverhill schools.

The two were married 61 years and made their home by Plug Pond where they would welcome wildlife and garden to their heart’s content.

“When my husband first started, he had an ingenious way of making himself seem in great demand,” said his wife. “Paul may have had only one or two clients a week. He would schedule his clients at about the same time so that one of them could be waiting while the other arrived. After awhile, he built a very lucrative and well-respected firm.”

Another daughter Paula Steele, is a biopharmaceutical consultant in Maine and recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for a charitable cause. Son Mark is an economics professor at Stonehill College. Six productive grandsons gave him endless bragging rights.

May he rest in peace.

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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