Zareh Assadour Chalian, 91, of Burbank, California, passed away peacefully on September 4, 2023 at his home surrounded by his family.
Throughout his life, Zareh devoted himself to his family, his Armenian Apostolic faith, his career as a Civil Engineer, and above all to Hai Tahd, the Armenian Cause.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1932, Zareh obtained his French baccalaureate ‘math elem’ and continued his studies at the Université St. Joseph, graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering.
In addition to his fluency in French and his native Armenian, he also spoke Arabic, Turkish, English and the Hadjin dialect of his ancestors. He was intensely focused on his studies, graduating first in his class in College. He applied this same intensity when studying for and successfully passing the Professional Engineering licensing exam in New Jersey and California – which he prepared for by teaching himself the English version of all that he learned in his French college.
Zareh married Annie Baghdassarian in 1968 in Beirut. After welcoming daughters Maral, Arpi, and Hoori, the family moved to the United States fleeing the Lebanese Civil War. They settled first in Fort Wayne, Indiana, then moved to Toms River, New Jersey, where they raised their children. In New Jersey, Zareh worked as a Civil Engineer for a real estate development company. Even in his professional life, Zareh never missed an opportunity to spread awareness about Armenia and Hai Tahd. While working on a new development project in Toms River, he ensured that one of the streets was named ‘Armenia Drive.’ To this day, a replica of this street sign is proudly displayed in his family home, a nod to his work as a professional civil engineer and a testament to his pride in his heritage.
Zareh and Annie moved their family to Los Angeles in 1986 when he joined the Department of Water & Power for the City of Los Angeles. He retired in 2002, culminating a professional career that spanned five decades, extending from the Middle East to the United States.
He received many recognitions and commendations during his long career. He was particularly proud that as a young engineer, he was selected to represent the Lebanese Ministry of Water and Power Resources in France for a 6-month project working with colleagues in the French Ministry of Public Works.
He held leadership positions in many community organizations. In Beirut, he served on the governing committee of the Order of Engineers and Architects, was on the founding Board of Trustees of the Levon and Sofia Hagopian Armenian College, and served as a member of the Executive Committee of the A.R.F. Zavarian Student Association. He continued his dedicated community service in the U.S. Ever the servant of the Armenian cause, Zareh was a founding member of the Burbank Aghbalian Chapter of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and active in civic life in Burbank.
Throughout his life, Zareh passionately researched the Chalian family origins. One of his most favorite pastimes was sharing historic stories of his ancestors, heroes from the town of Hadjin in Cilicia, Western Armenia. Upon retirement, he dedicated his life to compiling the memoirs of his father Assadour, chronicling life before and during the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and later to the displaced Armenian community’s resettlement in Beirut, Lebanon. With support from his entire family, he published the book Proud Son of Hadjin. He spent countless hours and sleepless nights gathering information, translating old documents, reaching out to scholars and organizations who were also dedicated to preserving the history of the Armenian people. His laser-like focus on this work was a reflection of his loyal dedication to serving the Cause.
His Armenian spirit is proudly reflected in the family he and Annie created and in the extended Chalian kertastan (family).
Funeral services followed by interment will be held on September 23, 2023 at 9am at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Old North Church, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068.
He is survived by:
His wife of 55 years, Annie (Baghdassarian)
Daughter, Maral Chalian
Daughter, Arpi Chalian and Zareh Khachatourian, grandchildren Siran and Gayané
Daughter, Hoori Chalian and Mike Panu, grandchildren Zabelle and Haig
Sister, Maro Chalian Read
Sister-in-law, Maral Chalian
Nephews and nieces:
Chris (Laurie) Chalian & Family
Alice Chalian Manoukian (Arthur) & Family
Gena Douzdjian (Viken) & Family
Garo Chalian (Val)
Raffi Chalian (Anush) & Family
Armen Chalian (Maro) & Family
Ara Chalian (Talar) & Family
Vicken Chalian & Family
Sona Cleary (John)
Sam Read (Jenny)
And the Chamsarian and Baghdassarian families along with many beloved cousins and friends.
He is predeceased by his brother Garo, brother Varoujan and sister-in-law Zaroug, brother Toros and sister-in-law Ani.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Armenian National Committee of America: 1711 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036.