Dr. Hrair Atikian (1940-2014)

Dr. Hrair Atikian, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle, passed away on Tues., Aug. 19 in Burbank, Calif., due to complications caused by cancer. He was 74. Hrair Atikian was a resident of Sherman Oaks for 46 years, and a prominent orthodontist in North Hollywood for more than 35 years.

Dr. Hrair Atikian (1940-2014)
Dr. Hrair Atikian (1940-2014)

Hrair was born on Feb. 25, 1940 in Kessab (Kasab), Syria, the youngest of eight children blessed to Hovhannes and Martha Abdulian. Two weeks after Hrair’s birth, his biological mother passed away, whereupon Hrair was lovingly adopted by his maternal aunt, Efronia Atikian, and her husband, Agop Atikian (a well-known chemist and schoolmaster), whom he always warmly called “Mom and Dad.” The family immigrated to the United States in 1954, settling in Boonton, N.J., where Hrair attended Boonton High School and graduated in 1958. Hrair then attended Cooper Union, where he studied mechanical engineering for two years. After witnessing a downturn in the engineering industry, Hrair redirected his academic focus and enrolled in New York University (NYU), graduating in 1962 with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. Hrair moved to Boston, and from 1962-66, Hrair attended Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He graduated from Harvard Dental School in 1966 with a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree.

In June 1966, Hrair married Martha Bilezikian of Newton, Mass. They moved to Portland, Ore., where Hrair completed a post-doctorate program in orthodontics at the University of Oregon Dental School. In 1968, shortly after moving to Studio City, Calif., Hrair opened up his own very successful orthodontics practice in North Hollywood. For 35 years, many local youth and adults received orthodontic treatment from Dr. Hrair Atikian. He practiced with honesty and integrity, with a conservative approach. Hrair was meticulous and dedicated in his practice of orthodontics.

In late 1970, Hrair and Martha purchased their home in Sherman Oaks, where Hrair resided up until his passing. Hrair and Martha had three daughters: Katherine (“Katie”), Caroline, and Alison, who brought Hrair much joy, love, and happiness.

In 1994, Hrair and Martha separated and later divorced. In 1996, Hrair married Mary (Ekmekji) Britton. They enjoyed nearly 18 years of marriage, which included travel to Kessab and other destinations. Mary lovingly cared for Hrair throughout his illness.

Hrair practiced orthodontics until late 2003, at which time he entered an early retirement and sold his practice in order to care for his 34-year old daughter, Katie, in the last months of her life as she courageously battled pancreatic cancer. The dedication, loyalty, diligence, and relentless sacrifice displayed at this time summarized Hrair’s character absolutely. Hrair was calm, hard working, loving, kind, loyal, and honest to the core. He was intelligent, and had a quick and subtle wit.

Hrair was very active in the local community, dedicating time and resources to the Armenian community and several American charitable organizations. Hrair was involved with the Kessab Educational Association (KEA) since 1969, serving as chairman three times, as well as secretary and treasurer. Hrair’s other civic involvements included the Kiwanis Club-North Hollywood Chapter from 1969-2010; the United Armenian Congregational Church Deacons’ Committee for 11 years, where he served as chairman for 2 years; and the Merdinian Armenian School for 12 years (including 5 years as chairman).

An avid reader, Hrair enjoyed history, archaeology, and anthropology. Other hobbies included stamp and coin collecting, and spending time with his children, grandchildren, and family, who in his own words were his “raison d’etre” or “reason for being.”

Dr. Hrair Atikian is survived by his wife, Mary Atikian; his daughters, Caroline Atikian O’Malley and Alison Sykes; his grandchildren, Shannon Michelle O’Malley and Jack Ryan Kade O’Malley; his son-in-law, John O’Malley; his brothers, Misak, Daniel, and Vasken Abdulian, and their families; and his sister-in-laws, Joyce and Patsy Abdulian, and their families. He was predeceased by his daughter, Katie.

A Memorial Service in Hrair Atikian’s honor is scheduled at the United Armenian Congregational Church, 3480 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Los Angeles on Sat., Sept. 27 at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School (13330 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423; memo line: Hrair Atikian) or to the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) Kessab, Syria Fund (31 West Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652; memo line: Hrair Atikian).

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

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