Andranik Mesrobian: 1960-2011

Richly Lived, All Too Brief Life

There are times I wish I was a kid again, riding my blue and white Western Flyer bike down the Prospect St. hill—no hands—feeling the breeze on my youthful face, with not a care in the world. Instead, I am beyond middle age and reminded of just how vulnerable we are as humans. Death has come knocking and within the short span of a month, two of my dear ungerouhis have borne the burden of burying their sons.

Early morning phone calls delivered the shocking and sobering news that Andranik “Andy” Mesrobian, the son of Seta and the late Verdi Mesrobian, had passed away on Sept. 14, just days before his 51st birthday. A massive heart attack cut the handsome young man down in the prime of his life, leaving his bride of only five years, Lynn Darmon, a bereaved widow and her children, Alexandra and Daniel, without their cherished dad.

Andy had been a member of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), attended the St. Sarkis Sunday School program, and become a member of the church’s Boy Scout Troup, attaining the “Life Scout” status. Later he served in the Navy during the Gulf War.

Andy and Lynn had successfully joined their Christian and Jewish faiths to find marital bliss, and one marveled at how the khnamees (in-laws) became a unified family. It is said that Andy was completely devoted to his loved ones, making each of them the object of his direct attention.

Everyone in our circle has adult children, and we were filled with dread at the unexpected news and how it would affect our long-time friend Seta. The Lord had called Andy home because, as Rev. Fr. Daron Stepanian of St. Sarkis Church stated, “He needed the assistance of a good manager up there and Andy was His choice.” Andy’s life career was as a project manager in computer technology.

You could feel the heaviness of Andy’s death at Dan Gark services. Hundreds filled the funeral home. The faces of his peer group showed their distress and disbelief. Shoulders sagged along with their spirits, driving home the reality that their carefree youthful days were truly far behind them. How could this happen to such a vital, young, fun-loving man who, it was said, lived life fully and with passion?

Close family friend George Mouradian, Andy’s former scout master, spoke eloquently at Dan Gark services. With voice breaking, he said Andy had been like a son to him, and told of his mischievous comedic antics that were a cause for laughter among his fellow scouts.

Among the many floral tributes and photos on display, one item in particular raised the bar of emotion—Andy’s boyhood scout shirt neatly laden with badges and medals. There it was, on a hanger longing to be hugged, the perfect memento of a mother’s perfect love for a child.

The celebrant recited a poignant saying that a mother should never have to witness the burial of a child. “Let my heart be eaten by jackals before my mother sees my death.”

Saturday morning the sanctuary of the church was filled with mourners anxious to be present before Andy’s earthly presence departed. His spirit had already risen to be with his father Verdi. The 85-year-old and the 50-year-old would surely already be sitting down to a game of tavlou. Der Hayr said, “The chain had been broken on earth but that Andy was now with his father and all the ancestors who preceded him to everlasting life. May God give strength and patience to those left behind.”

It was appropriate that Der Daron told of the similarities of the Armenian and Jewish people, both coming from ancient and cultured legacies, and both suffering devastating histories.

Der Voghormiah, Der Voghormiah, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.”

Tearful mourners rose as Andy’s casket began its final journey toward the exit of the church he loved. The once-cloudy overcast day broke into bright sunlight when Andy entered the foyer—a hopeful sign as there always is at a funeral, reassuring loved ones to remain firm in their faith that the Lord has promised resurrection and triumph over death. “He is in a better place,” intoned the priest.

Noticeable was the massive bouquet of red roses, with “To Husband” on the casket from his shattered young widow Lynn. Everyone understood how the days ahead would be dark ones for her.

Andy was followed down the aisle by his longtime friends, now his pallbearers, Michael Halajian, Vaughn Mouradian, Serop Almasian, Mike Nranian, brother-in-law Paul Darmon, and family and friends. Recognizing my anguish, Halajian later wrapped his arms around me and reassuringly said, “We shall overcome this, too.”

Other survivors include Andy’s sister, Margaret (Edward) Lutz and son Alexander, Anahit Mesrobian, and his in-laws William and Suzy Darmon, and many family and friends.

Out of towners included loyal friends Patrick Keyorian from Chicago and Kim (Krikorian) Tatoian from East Aurora, N.Y. Kim had remained “one of the guys” since their early AYF days.

Andranik’s final resting place is near his father Verdi in Detroit’s Woodmere Cemetery. Memorial tributes are for St. Sarkis Church and Temple Beth Ahm. Funeral arrangements were by the Simon Javizian Funeral Home.


Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty (Serpouhie) Apigian Kessel was born in Pontiac, Mich. Together with her husband, Robert Kessel, she was the proprietor of Woodward Market in Pontiac and has two sons, Bradley and Brant Kessel. She belonged to the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild for 12 years, serving as secretary for many of those years. During the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Detroit community selected her to be the English-language secretary and she happily dedicated her efforts to help the earthquake victims. She has a column in the Armenian Weekly entitled “Michigan High Beat.”

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