In Memoriam: Alice Minassian Madenlian

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Alice Minassian Madenlian

Alice Minassian Madenlian

Alice Minassian Madenlian was born in Alexandria, Egypt on March 1, 1943. She was the youngest child of Missak and Arshaluyse Minassian, and Levon, Sona and Zabel’s youngest sister. In her early years she attended Boghossian Armenian School, and later, Scottish School for Girls high school, where she graduated with honors at the young age of 16. She was accepted to the University of Alexandria Faculty of Letters and Arts, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature, becoming the first Armenian female to graduate from that university.

The prosperous Armenian community of Alexandria had created all the vital establishments to raise an educated and enlightened generation, and preserve the culture, language and identity – the Armenian school and church, cultural and sports organizations, and Armenian Centers. Alice joined the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Alexandria, and the GAMK Homenetmen scouts as an “Arenoush” girl scout with her siblings. In addition to going to school she spent much of her time at the “Harachtimaser” center.

Alice was raised in a well-respected and exemplary Armenian family. Missak and Arshaluyse, originally from Bitlis, Armenia, did their best to provide their children with higher education, and always emphasized the importance of family ties and relations, while maintaining a strong Armenian environment. Missak had joined the Armenian Revolutionary Federation while in Bulgaria and Arshaluyse was a member of the Armenian Relief Society.

All the Bitlistsi’s in Alexandria were friends. They regularly came together including Sose Mayrig, who was a good friend of Alice’s grandmother Shushan. When Sose Mayrig visited Shushan and her sister in law Arek, they would discuss the old days in the Armenian Bitlis dialect.

In the 1960s the Armenian community of Egypt started to emigrate to safer havens like Canada. Alice’s brother Levon was already in Montreal, Sona was attending college in California and Zabel joined her soon after. In 1964 Alice and her parents joined their compatriots in Montreal where Alice worked as a teacher for one year.

In 1965 Alice joined her sister Sona in Montebello, California, where a new Armenian School was about to open its doors. She became a part of the first faculty of Armenian Mesrobian School and taught there for three years until 1968. She first met Razmig Madenlian while working as a teacher. On behalf of the ARF Central Committee Razmig accompanied Arshavir Shiragian, an avenger in the Nemesis operation that brought to justice the executors of the Armenian Genocide, to visit Mesrobian school. During this time Alice joined the ranks of the ARF and became a member of the vibrant Lernavayr Gomidehyutyun, and eventually Dro Gomdehutyun. Alice also became the first news reporter on the weekly ARF radio program where Razmig presented the political editorials and analysis.

Alice and Razmig were married on December 21, 1968. They were blessed with 2 children: Garo, born on January 31, 1970 and Shushan on October 11, 1972.

In spite of her busy schedule, raising a family, working full time as a teacher, an active member of the ARF, and volunteering in the community, Alice joined the Armenian Relief Society Nairy chapter in Montebello. She always placed great importance on working with the youth, and became the advisor to the AYF Montebello Vahan Cardashian chapter, and later the Director at AYF Summer Camp. Ultimately her life would always pivot around her family and her community.

Alice possessed exceptional organizational skills, and had a great impact on the ARS Nairy chapter, and later on the entire region. Her work in the ARS interchapter body, and her efforts in organizing the chapters in California, laid the foundation for the establishment of the ARS Western Region, when in 1984 she served as its first chairperson. During those initial years she worked tirelessly to create a solid foundation for the organization, regularly met with the chapters, and established new chapters in California and other states.

She realized the ARS needed its own building to maintain offices and staff, and made it her mission to do so, securing donations from donors, and as a result of her efforts in 1988 the ARS opened the doors to its new building and offices.

Alice worked very hard for her community, never seeking attention, she remained focused on the tasks at hand, and always had an understanding of the big picture goals. In the late 1980s she was elected to the ARS Central Executive, the worldwide governing body of the organization. It was during this time that she routinely visited Armenia and Artsakh, and coordinated worldwide humanitarian aid efforts to assist those effected in the Earthquake zone and in the Karabagh war. She travelled to Artsakh during these difficult times when cars would break down on unpaved roads amidst enemy sniper fire and shelling. She personally travelled there during the war, to ensure aid was received, and stayed in people’s modest homes instead of hotels, seemingly unaffected by the falling bombs.

As the ARS Chairperson she established the ARS in Armenia as a region, with its regional bodies and multiple chapters throughout the country, opened Optic Clinics which were free for the population, and continued to coordinate the worldwide aid efforts to the earthquake zone and Artsakh.

In the late 1990s after Alice had stepped down from the Central and Regional executives she returned to her home chapter in Montebello and continued to work in and for her community, serving as an example to ARS members everywhere, and inspiring many women to join the ARS. She was the driving force in establishing the ARS Nairy Day Care center in Montebello.

During the decades she served in the ARS, Alice always maintained the ARF’s political orientation and even became the first woman to participate in the ARF World Congress.

Even though Alice volunteered her time in the ARS and ARF, she also continued her career in education. After Mesrobian school, she taught at Stevenson and Gage Middle Schools, then in 1981 at John Marshall High School in Hollywood as an English and ESL teacher. There she established Armenian language and history classes as well as an Armenian Club. She also continued with her own education and received her Master’s Degree in Counseling, after which she worked as a counselor at the same high school until 2003, and from 2003 to 2006 she was the counselor for the Gear-Up Program. She was also on the Los Angeles Unified School District committee that established and created the District Fluency for Armenian tests, and examined applicants’ qualifications.

But, Alice was happiest when surrounded by family as that was the most important thing for her. She looked forward to Thanksgiving when every year all of her and Razmig’s relatives would come to the house for dinner, and everyone talked, joked, and laughed, a tradition that she started over 35 years ago. Her home was filled with children and later grandchildren. Especially important for her was Armenian Christmas Eve and Easter Eve, called “khutoum,” when she would make traditional Armenian dinner with special Bitlis courses such as “marem,” and Garo and Shushan and their families would come over. She especially enjoyed going to Big Bear and Palm Springs with Razmig, Garo and Shushan, and later her grandchildren Kevork and Zachary, spending weekends or sometimes a week or two in the mountains. Often times they were joined by her or Razmig’s siblings and their families. When she became a grandmother spending time with her grandchildren, Kevork and Zachary, was what she looked forward to the most, regularly asking Garo and Shushan when they would come over and anxiously waiting so she could sit and talk to her grandchildren, share life lessons, help them with their homework and later on give them advice about high school and preparing for college.

Alice researched and prepared a family tree of her and Razmig’s families for her grandchildren, with biographies and stories, going as far back as possible but not beyond the Armenian Genocide. Unfortunately, she was unable to complete the family tree project and in her typical selfless fashion, she wrote about everyone but herself.

Alice was successful in her career as a high school teacher and counselor, always took care of the home and her family, and served her community and the Armenian people through the ARF and ARS.

She was honest and truthful, with a selfless dedication to helping others, and was fearless in her battles against injustice. She never looked for the spotlight and humbly and quietly dedicated herself to the Armenian community and her family.

To the young generation she stands as a shining example of an Armenian wife, mother, and grandmother, a professional woman, and as the unwavering Armenian spirit dedicated to the Armenian Cause.

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3 Comments

  1. Aram said:

    Sorry to hear this sad news. I was in her armenian club at marshall as a student. She was a very nice lady. My condolences.

  2. Naira Nabi said:

    Hi Garo, what a beautiful woman!!! Inside and out, God Bless her soul. I am sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family.

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