Julia Eshkonian: Our Work of Art

July 11, 1924 - September 2, 2020

Julia Eshkonian (1924 – 2020)

Lovingly submitted by children Sylvia Tanielian, Alan Tanielian, and Darcy Tanielian.

Beautiful young people are acts of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. Such was our mother who passed away peacefully on September 2nd at the age of 96.

It was July 11th in the midst of the roaring twenties that our mother was born into her awaiting family: parents Krikor and Mariam and brother John. A year later she became a big sister to Takouye.

Our mother spent much of her youth and young adulthood in Chicago on Flournoy Street. The street was lined with rental units like theirs, and each one seemed to have a different nationality as an occupant. The neighborhood was our mother’s first classroom as families frequently exchanged their customs, cuisine and a bit of their language: lessons which were never-ending. Her formal education concluded in 1942 when she graduated from Flower Technical High School. As a teen, she worked various jobs, but it was in her early twenties that she took on the most important job of her lifetime. Our mother was one of the many staff members at the University of Chicago who worked on the Manhattan Project. In August 1945 her contribution was acknowledged by the US War Department, US Army Corps of Engineers. It is often recognized that the atomic bomb was instrumental in hastening the end of World War II.

Three years later her family moved to Berwyn, Illinois. That same year, our mother married her love, Edward Tanielian. They settled in Deerfield, Illinois where the difference between living in the city versus living in the country could not be more striking; adjusting was yet another lesson presented by circumstance, and she did so willingly and gracefully.

Our maternal grandfather and great-grandfather were deacons at the Armenian Church in West Pullman and Chicago, so her love for the church is no surprise. She joined the AYF at an early age and was honored as Queen of their Olympics twice. She was also a member of the Armenian Relief Society and Ladies Guild, and she volunteered much of her time between these organizations when not rehearsing with the choir. Additionally, the Taniel Varoujan Armenian School was the recipient of her dedication as well. Our mother was never without an idea and suggestion or two.

Our mother loved to crochet, tat and knit. About 30 years ago, one of her crocheted doilies won first place at the Lake County Fair. In the 21st century, she took the same award for her apple pie in a contest so named by The Farmers Market held in Deerfield.

Our mother had a very welcoming and loving heart which she eagerly shared as second mother to Carol Koloian. Daughter of the heart, Carol was very young when she started living with us as her parents recovered from their injuries after a serious car accident. Seamlessly, our mother became Carol’s biggest supporter throughout her life: the loss of our mother shattered her world.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal. 

Remembering Ungerouhi Julia Eshkonian

It was with great sorrow that we heard of the passing of U. Julia Eshkonian on September 2, 2020. With U. Julia’s death, the ARS Zabelle Chapter and its sister organizations, the Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church, and Chicago at-large have lost a valuable and unparalleled member of the community.

For decades, U. Julia served on the executive board of our local ARS chapter with dignity and grace. Among many positions she held, including secretary of the executive board, she also served as a delegate to Eastern Region conventions and as a member of the Eastern Region executive board for two terms.

As an extension of her duties as an ARS member, U. Julia served on the board of our local Armenian day school, Taniel Varoujan Armenian School (TVAS), with many years as School Board chairperson. Her positivity and composure lent a strong and stable leadership to the school, continuing to educate generations of Chicago youth.

However, perhaps her most lasting gift to Taniel Varoujan Armenian School is its spelling bee. It was U. Julia who conceived of the highly-anticipated annual event. In 2014, TVAS honored U. Julia by officially naming the spelling bee, “Julie Eshkonian Annual Spelling Bee.”

Additionally, for many years she served on the Church Ladies Guild executive board as the treasurer.

With her kind, humble and overwhelmingly positive demeanor, U. Julia was well-liked and respected by the community as a whole.

Rest in peace U. Julia, you served your community very well. Your memory and legacy will stay alive in our hearts. The ARS and Armenian School will continue the work that you left behind, following your dedication and your enthusiasm for our youth and the future of the Armenian nation.

On behalf of the ARS Zabelle Chapter, we express our deepest sympathy to U. Julia’s children, grandchildren and family members.

Respectfully submitted,

Arpy Killian
Glenview, Illinois

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

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

1 Comment

  1. Thank you Sylvia for the beautifully written tribute to your late mother, Julia Eshkonian. Thank you as well to Ungherouhi Arpy Killian for her heartfelt tribute to Julia and her memories working together. We shall all pass one day, but what matters is the legacy we leave behind in our Communities.

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