Photography

MANYA KORKIGIAN

October 22, 1923 ~ December 21, 2020 (age 97)

Obituary

Manya Korkigian peacefully passed away in her home in West Bloomfield, Michigan surrounded by her family. With her death, she ends a long beautiful life which was woven by historic circumstance, incredible fate and a signature self determination that few could imagine.Manya was born on an unknown date in the springtime weeks after Easter in 1923 in Krasnodar, Russia.Both her parents hailed from two prominent Armenian mercantile families. Her mother, Haiganoush Karabedian was raised in Kars in Russian occupied eastern Armenia, was the daughter of a Bagraduni family, the last royal family of Armenia. Haiganoush loved to learn, constantly read books on every topic, trying to learn as much as possible despite not having a formal higher education. She was married to Roupen Der Androian. Roupen was a seasoned businessman who grew up in Van, in Ottoman occupied Armenia. At the age of eight, Roupen learned how to keep books and began delivering payments for his wheel-chair-stricken father's business. As the Ottoman Empire fell and it became more certain that Armenians would not be safe, Roupen left Van with his father for Krasnodar in the Russian Empire.Haiganoush and Roupen were married and had four children: Arpina, Manya, Susan and Levon. For the young family, their wealth became a liability in the face of a rising Bolshevik tide. Middle and upper class men would go missing at night never to be seen again; confiscation and curfew became a way to control the merchants and by the time Manya was 5, Roupen looked beyond Russia for his family's future. One of Roupen's closest business partners, a Jewish man name Rafael, forged paperwork for the entire family to travel to Persia. The family took an Armenified version of Rafael's name, Rafaelian; which Manya had as her family name until marriage. In Tehran, the family began anew. Manya's father started the first dry cleaning plant in the Middle East and the family did very well with their new business. Manya and her siblings were afforded great privilege from this new wealth. They lived in a beautiful home, vacationed on the Caspian Sea and skied in the mountains of northern Persia and attended the finest schools. Haiganoush's love of knowledge was reflected on her children. Roupen and Haiganoush constantly entertained intellectuals at their home and had an extraordinary cosmopolitan world view. Manya and her sisters were taught opera, ballet and read the great works of literature. In fact, Manya was so in love with ballet, she aspired to be a ballerina. Because of their worldly and educated demeanor, Manya and her siblings were sent to an American high school, where they became enchanted with the idea of America.After World War II, Roupen and Haiganoush saw that their three beautiful young daughters and son would benefit from formal higher education, one that Haiganoush was not afforded and that was not attainable in Tehran. The family considered many countries to relocate, however Manya and her siblings were insistent that it was to be the United States of America. In 1949, Roupen moved his entire family (apart from his oldest daughter) to Detroit where Haiganoush's brother had been living since before World War II. America was great to Manya. She engaged in the robust Armenian community of Detroit. Despite her father's wishes, Manya did not attend college. Although her younger sister and brother did. Tragedy struck the family when Arpina, Manya's older sister, who did not immigrate with the family died of rheumatic heart disease; and not so long after settling in the US, Manya's parents had to return to Iran and Armenia for a short time. While her parents were away, Manya encountered a young engineering student named Ara Korkigian, the son of survivors of the Armenian genocide. Ara was said to have fallen in love with Manya at first site. He was handsome, charismatic, well spoken, was extremely well read; but also edgy, he had been a prisoner of war during on the European front, loved the outdoors and never was afraid to roll up his sleeves: a true Renaissance man. After multiple attempts to woo her, Ara convinced Manya to date her; and in September of 1950, Ara along with Manya drove to New York City where their eloped. In many ways this began a new period of Manya's extraordinary life. In 1951 Manya had her first and only son, Armen. In 1955, she was blessed with her first daughter Myda. As their family grew Ara and Manya moved to Farmington Hills, Michigan. In 1960, her youngest daughter was born. Manya named this daughter Arpina, after her sister who passed away a decade earlier. Manya in many ways was living her American dream. She had a wonderful suburban home, with a husband she loved and adored, children that she cherished and all while she easily met every expectation of a modern American housewife of that era. While emerged in Americana, she never forgot the world that she was from. She made sure her children knew their Armenian language, history and culture. She surrounded herself by many educated and artistic friends. She listened to classical music and opera. She was an incredible cook and hostess and brought Armenian, Persian, Russian and European cuisine into their home. Manya always had a way to bring the highest quality and the highest class to everything she did, always fusing the old and new. As her children began going off to college and her husband entered the prime of his career, Manya thought her American life was perfect. But this life ended for Manya when in February of 1974, at the age of 51, Manya's beloved husband suddenly died of a heart attack. Manya was crushed. After losing the love of her life, Manya's entire world changed overnight. She had never worked, never driven a car, never lived alone before or balance a checkbook. But she endured and she began her third life, a period where she was able to challenge not only everyone's image of her but even how she saw herself. With the help of her children and her close friends, she found a job working at Crowley's Department store, learned to drive and balance a checkbook. She began a formal exercise routine which she prided herself in doing regularly until she was almost 90. She spent time going to the opera, ballet and symphony. She traveled to the great cities of Europe. This period of her life became even more accentuated by her family growing. Proud of her son and two daughters, she saw them not only find success but also find love and marriage of their own. Manya's grandsons, Shant, Joshua, Alexan, Jason and Jack, adored their grandmother who they called "Medz Mom". To them, she was a link to the past. She made them proud to Armenians, to be Korkigians and to be her grandchildren. Being a grandmother for Manya also let her experience so many parts of the world that surprised many: watching organized sports, popular TV shows, learning chess and popular board games and eating junk food. In her last decade, Manya persevered as a witty, often sage matriarch. She saw her grandchildren mature into adulthood and begin their own lives and families. She was blessed with a great-granddaughter Georgia.Only in her last year of life was Manya ill. She had been blessed with good health for the entirety of her life. At 97, as her health faltered, Manya preferred to be in her home in peace, being cared for by her family, primarily by her daughter Arpi who provided her with the same dignity that Manya herself had given others her entire life. At the very end Manya had lived not one but three very full and different lives, never forgetting who she was, but always changing and being able to adapt with the grace of life.FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTSThe family will receive friends on December 26, 2020, Saturday from 1:00pm until time of funeral service at 2:00pm in St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, 19300 Ford Road, Dearborn, MI 48128. Interment in the cemetery family lot will be in private.MEMORIAL DONATIONSThe family suggests that memorials be sent to St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church.FAMILY MEMBERSShe was the beloved wife of the late Ara Korkigian. Loving mother of Armen (Mary) Korkigian, DO, Myda Korkigian, DVM, Sunny Korkigian. Cherished grandmother of Shant Korkigian, DO, Joshua (Lindsay) Fisher, Esq, Alexan (Stephanie) Korkigian, Jason (Ilana) Fisher, Esq, Jack Francis Korkigian; and Great Grandmother of Georgia Lee Fisher. Dear sister of the late Arpina Rafaelian, the late Susan Manuel, the late Levon Rafaelian., and many other relatives and friends.CONDOLENCESKindly click on "Share a Memory" and leave a condolence, remembrance, photo or video here.Click on "Tribute Wall" to view them.FLORISTSPlease deliver all flowers directly to the church on Saturday by 12 Noon.THANK YOU.

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