Lucine Zadoian Kouchakdjian passed away on February 26, 2021 at the age 87. Lucine was born on April 12, 1933 in Ploiesti, Romania to Vartan and Anoush (Ghazarian) Zadoian, survivors of the Armenian Genocide.
Lucine lived a full and eventful life. Her early years were marked by deprivation, fear and heartbreak, forcing her to assume responsibility beyond her age during difficult times in Romania marked by World War II, Soviet occupation and imposition of the communist regime. As a known member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, her father Vartan was in imminent danger of arrest, and the family kept a packed suitcase for him behind the front door. As a teenager, Lucine witnessed the tragic, premature death of her father, becoming the only breadwinner of the family, working part-time while attending the Conservatory of Art and Music in Ploiesti (she also had the sole ration book, providing the family with 200 grams of bread a day). She was an accomplished pianist and frequently performed in concerts with orchestras. Facing many economic and political difficulties and challenges, Lucine, her mother Anoush and her younger brother Hratch decided to make every effort to leave Romania. In the meantime, Lucine had been selected to continue her piano studies at the Moscow Conservatory, an opportunity that would have advanced her career, however foreclosing any possibility of leaving the country. Lucine decided to forgo the honor for a chance to live in freedom. With the help of a relative abroad, the family obtained Lebanese citizenship and began a long ordeal of leaving Romania. In May 1954, the family was finally able to leave for Lebanon with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Within days of arriving in Beirut, Lucine found her first piano pupil, providing much-needed income for the family. Her reputation as an effective teacher led to a growing number of students. While in Lebanon, the Zadoians had the opportunity to meet again with General Dro Kanayan, Lucine and Hratch’s godfather. It was during this time in Lebanon that Lucine began her lifelong pursuit of political activism. She was passionate and relentless in her beliefs. While in Lebanon, still scarred by their experience under communism, she and Hratch organized demonstrations against visiting groups from Romania, propagandized them and engineered the defection of a musician. Once the Romanian mission in Lebanon discovered Lucine and Hratch’s role, they sought to have Hratch arrested, and death threats followed. These events unfolded during the 1958 civil war in Lebanon. Not long after the end of the civil war, the Zadoians received their immigration visas to the United States.
On February 10, 1959, the Zadoian family arrived in the port of New York, a dream fulfilled. Lucine found a job at the Home Insurance Company. After a time, Anoush discovered friends and acquaintances she had not seen since she had fled the burning of Smyrna in 1922. Among them was Caloust Kouchakdjian, a Smyrna neighbor, now living in Manhattan with his wife Arshaguhi and their sons Sarkis and George and daughter Anita. Before long, Sarkis and Lucine were dating; they got married in 1961. Their sons Michael and Ara were born thereafter.
Due to Sarkis’ work, the family moved to the Washington, D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland. They established a circle of friends and became involved in community activities around Soorp Khatch Armenian Church. Lucine was co-founder of the Hamasdegh Armenian School where she became a music teacher. Later, she became active in the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society where she served on the executive of the Washington chapter. During the national commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide organized by the Armenian Prelacy in Washington, DC, Lucine was committee head for the commemorative concert and program that took place at DAR Constitution Hall, just blocks from the White House. She also increasingly found an outlet for her political activism by working with the young leaders at the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). For dozens of years, she passionately organized a network of Washington Armenian community members who called on members of Congress, visited offices, lobbied, led protests and participated in political campaigns on behalf of Armenian issues.
As her children grew up, Lucine started teaching piano again, acquiring a large number of students in whom she built a lifelong love for music. Simultaneously, she took executive positions in both the Maryland State and Montgomery County Music Teachers Associations, volunteering to organize workshops, recitals, music competitions and benefit concerts throughout the state. Over the years, Lucine and Sarkis traveled extensively through Europe and Armenia. Most memorably, Lucine and her brother Hratch stood with hundreds of thousands of others on Armenia’s Republic Square in September 21, 1991 to witness Armenia’s re-independence upon the dissolution of the USSR.
In 2003, Lucine and Sarkis relocated to Massachusetts to be near their sons and their growing families. They enjoyed and nurtured their six grandchildren. Once again, Lucine acquired many piano students and continued teaching to the very end.
Through all the upheavals of war, communism and persecution and through hard times and good times, Lucine was always resourceful, courageous, stubbornly determined and irrepressibly optimistic. She was never at a loss for words and was blessed with a sharp sense of humor. A devoted grandmother, mother and wife, she was full of energy and enthusiasm in all that she undertook. She loved life and lived it well. She was a force of nature.
Lucine is survived by her loving family: her husband Sarkis; her sons Michael and Ara; daughters-in-law Hasmik (Ghevondyan) and Lisa (Kaprielian); grandchildren Stepan, Hagop, Aram, Zaven, Maral and Diran; her brother Hratch and his wife Leslie; her-brother-in-law George Kouchakdjian and his wife Julie; and her sister-in-law Anita Serian and her husband Steven; nephews and nieces. She will continue to live in all who knew her, her family, her friends and her students.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the Armenian National Committee of America Endowment Fund or mailed to The ANCA Endowment Fund, 1711 N Street, NW, Washington DC 20036.