In Loving Memory of Hratch Paneyan

Hratch Paneyan (1928-2022)

Hratch Paneyan passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones on February 28, 2022. He was the beloved husband of Nevart, whom he affectionately called Nono; the loving «Պա» of his daughter Maroush and her husband Kenneth; the adored «Տէտէ» to his grandson Philip and his wife Alidz and to his grandson Garen and his husband Timothy; and the adoring great-grandfather (also «Տէտէ») to Zaven Vahe and Raffi Hratch. He is also survived by his sister Sirane Djerdjerian (Montreal); his nephews Arto Djerdjerian (Alberta), Jirayr Djerdjerian and his wife Tatyana (New Jersey), and Kourken (Gillian) Panyan (Montreal). He will be missed by his cousins Suzie Tourian (Montreal) and Sona (Garbis) Zerdelian (Boston); his brother-in-law Tatul Sonentz-Papazian (Boston); and countless cousins and in-laws throughout the United States and Canada. He is predeceased by his brother Noubar Panyan (Cairo, Egypt); niece Lucie Sarkissian (Montreal); and cousins from the Paneyan and Tourian families.

Hratch was born in Cairo, Egypt on November 1, 1928. He often bragged that he had three birthdays, the 1st, 3rd, and 5th, the latter two due to clerical errors. His parents Kourken and Makdaghiné (Tourian) had fled to Egypt from Ankara. His grandfather Kevork Khanian had been a very wealthy businessman and land owner in Ankara. When the family fled to Egypt, he changed his name to Paneyan to avoid being discovered by the Turkish government. 

In his youth, Hratch was an avid cyclist, keeping and repairing his bicycle in the foyer of the family’s modest apartment in El Sakakini. Weekends would frequently be spent on scenic rides on Gezira Island in the middle of the Nile, or to the beautiful zoo at Giza, where he would sit with friends, eating ice cream in the shade.

After attending Kaloustyan Azkayin Varjaran and Petit Lycee de Sakakini, he went to St. Jean Baptiste de La Salle, then on to College Saint Joseph. He graduated in 1947 from College Saint Joseph with a degree in accounting and business management, entering the workforce as an accountant for a textile company. 

In the summer of 1950, Hratch’s cousin Mary introduced him to the love of his life, Nono, at a gathering of friends at the open air theater “Miami.” Mary, being close friends with Nevart, secretly arranged for the two of them to sit next to each other. After a two year courtship, they were engaged on November 1, 1952 (Hratch’s 24th birthday). They married in September 1954.

He and Nono settled in Alexandria and welcomed their daughter Maroush in August of 1955. As the political turmoil grew around him, he made plans to immigrate to the United States. Finally, in the fall of 1964, after a brief stay in Lebanon, he succeeded in reaching America.

Hratch quickly found employment in Williamsport, PA, and five years later, in Philadelphia, where the family eagerly became active members of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church. He volunteered his time as treasurer to the Sunday school, served many terms on the Board of Trustees, and as a member of the National Representative Assembly. His dedication and love for the church were limitless.  

Hratch was multi-talented. He spoke five languages: Armenian, English, French, Arabic and Turkish. He played guitar and mandolin, the latter, his prized possession, kept in a carrying case sewn by his mother. He was an enthusiastic adopter of technology; being introduced to computers in his mid-60s, he quickly learned accounting software, word processing and (once it was invented) e-mail. Right before what would be his final hospitalization, he was on the computer, reliving cherished memories among the hundreds of digital photographs, making certain his files were in order, all while listening to music he had downloaded over the years.  

He kept all kinds of tools close at hand, always ready to repair anything from a watch to a misbehaving walker. During his retirement, he took up watercolor painting with great passion. He loved sharing his portfolio with his friends, family and anyone who was interested. In recent years, he took pleasure in doing puzzles, especially the daily Sudoku and Jumble. Every day, he would print out two copies from the Philadelphia Inquirer and have a friendly competition with Nono, as to who would solve them first. 

Hratch lived for his beloved Nono, his «Մէկ հատիկ» Maroush, Ken whom he thought of as his son, his «ձագուկներ» Philip and Garen, their spouses Alidz and Timothy, and of course the lights of his life his great-grandchildren, Zaven and Raffi. 

The funeral service was held on March 8th at his spiritual home, St. Gregory’s Armenian Apostolic Church of Philadelphia. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Gregory’s Armenian Apostolic Church of Philadelphia.

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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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1 Comment

  1. I am from Williamsport and took dancing lessons with his daughter Maroush during the late 60’s. For some reason, I thought of Maroush today and I will keep her, her family, and her loving father in my prayers. May God bless this wonderful family!!

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