WATERTOWN, Mass.—On Mon., April 4, Tom Mooradian, author and legendary basketball player in Soviet Armenia, will speak about “The Repatriate: Love, Basketball, and the KGB” at the dinner meeting of the St. James Armenian Church Men’s Club.
Born into the blue-collar immigrant community of southwest Detroit in 1928, Mooradian graduated from Southwestern High School in 1947 with high academic honors and offers of athletic scholarships. He joined a repatriation group of 150 other Armenians at the young age of 19 and went to Soviet Armenia, unknowingly renouncing his American citizenship. He eventually graduated from the Institute of Physical Culture and Sports with a bachelor’s degree, coached junior basketball teams, and became a legendary basketball player for Soviet Armenia. He crossed paths with many Americans, including Roy Essoyan, foreign correspondent assigned to Moscow, Eleanor Roosevelt , and the Harlem Globetrotters. After spending 13 years trying to return to his homeland, he was granted an exit visa by the Soviet government. He subsequently attended and graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., with a major in journalism, and worked for Detroit suburban newspapers until his retirement in 2003.
Mooradian has received numerous Michigan Press Association writing awards for articles and columns; special tributes from the State Senate and State House of Representatives; and certificates of recognition from the Wayne County Commission, the cities of Wayne, Westland, Inkster, Belleville, and Romulus, and the townships of Van Buren, Sumpter, and Canton for his journalistic work. During his newspaper career, he wrote for the Dearborn Press, Dearborn Guide Newspapers, Dearborn Heights Leader, and associated newspapers, including Inkster Ledger Star, Wayne Eagle, Westland Eagle, Belleville Enterprise, and Romulus Roman, as well as Michigan community newspapers.
Mooradian and his wife Jan divide their time between homes in metro Detroit and northern Michigan. They have two grown daughters, Jennifer and Bethany, and three delightful grandchildren.
The social hour begins at 6:15 p.m., and will be followed by a complete losh kebab and kheyma dinner at 7 p.m. Admission is $12 per person. The dinner meeting will be held at the St. James Armenian Church, Mosesian Cultural Center, Keljik Hall, 465 Mt. Auburn St. in Watertown. The event is open to the public.