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In Memoriam: Barbara Haroutunian (1939-2021)

The Eastern Diocese was deeply saddened by the loss of Barbara Zamanigian Haroutunian, who passed away on January 12, at the age of 81.

In a life blessed with much happiness through her marriage, family, and friends—and blessed, too, by a lifelong vocation as a highly accomplished educator—Barbara delighted in devoting her heart and soul, her wonderful energy and talent, to the Armenian Church. From her earliest days, her warmth and kindness made her a beloved figure at the St. John Church of Southfield, MI, where her parents Leo and Victoria Zamanigian played such prominent roles.

Over many years of activity Barbara left an indelible mark on our community, serving in leadership roles in the Komitas Choir and parish Women’s Guild; the Women’s Guild Central Council and other Diocesan-level committees; and on the boards of such organizations as the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian School, the Armenian Heritage Cruise, and the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, where she was a Matron of Detroit’s Zabelle Otyag.

Her service had an international character, as well. After her retirement from a long career as a principal in the Detroit School System, Barbara was tapped by our Jerusalem Patriarchate to restructure the curriculum of its great Tarkmanchatz School. Her adventurous spirit led her to teach English in the Armenian town of Ichevan—and for good measure she single-handedly led a fundraising campaign to renovate the school in which she taught. Barbara had most recently been recruited for an international committee of Armenian women to assist in the reconstruction of Artsakh.

“It was my privilege to share Barbara’s friendship for many years, and I will never think about the St. John Church without envisioning her face and hearing her voice,” said Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan. “It was a voice that, above all things, always spoke the truth—and spoke it with love, confidence, and the highest expectations. The church was her life, and for Barbara it was something that demanded courageous honesty. She never minced words with me—whether addressing me as a priest, bishop, or fellow servant of our Lord Jesus Christ—but she possessed a rare grace that endowed even her criticism with a sense of love and generosity.”

Barbara’s marriage to her late husband, John Haroutunian, was a tender partnership in which each spouse complimented the other. She is survived by her daughter Lindsay Sahakian (Aram); grandchildren Chloe and Mason; brother Dr. Gary Zamanigian (Mariann); nephew Drew Zamanigian; numerous colleagues, relatives, friends, and loved ones.

A private funeral will take place at St. John Armenian Church with Fr. Aren Jebejian presiding, followed by interment at Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit. A 40th-day requiem service (Karasounk) will be commemorated on Sunday, February 21, 2021.

Memorial donations may be made to the St. John Armenian Church (22001 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield, MI 48075).

May our risen Lord bless the soul of his servant, and remember Barbara Haroutunian on the great day of his return.

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