It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother and grandmother, Shake Aga-Sarkisian. Shake, the matriarch of our family, passed away on March 17, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 79.
She was born December 28, 1936, in Damascus, Syria, to Gevork and Mari Balian. Shake had two brothers, Mkertich and Haykaram. Her parents were Armenian Genocide survivors who instilled in her an unrelenting work ethic and a strong drive to support and protect her family at all costs.
She lost her mother at a young age, and in 1946, she and her father, grandmother Lusia, and brothers began a long and difficult journey to Armenia in order to help their homeland gain republic status in the USSR. Her family began a new life in a one-room barn, and yet, they knew nothing but love and hard work. One day, Shake found two large needles outside. With these two needles, she taught herself how to knit and eventually became a proficient tailor, designing clothes for her family and anyone around her who she saw in need.
In 1953, Shake married Arakel Aga-Sarkisian, and they moved to Yerevan where they had and raised their three children, Vardoui, Aroutioun, and Sarkis. Though her difficult life had not allowed her to pursue higher education, she put her whole heart and energy into fighting for the best education for her children. Above all, she taught them to love and the value of hard work and determination.
At the age of 23, Shake tragically lost both her brothers. Her father, unable to bare the loss of his sons and then his mother, died of a heart attack in 1961.
In 1978, this tightknit family said goodbye to their established home in Armenia and began a new journey to America by way of Beirut and Rome. Ultimately, her family made their final home in Atlanta, Georgia, where her three children established their lives and the lives of their children.
Though a tragedy had left Shake unable to walk, she raised each of her grandchildren in her hands. She taught them The Lord’s Prayer and how to multiply, read, and write before they started school. Furthermore, she taught them to love their family, God’s creations, and most of all, God. Shake’s love for her grandchildren was boundless, and even in her final moments, she would praise each of them to anyone she could speak to, talking of their accomplishments and forgetting about her own pain.
In 2005, Shake and her deceased husband were honored when Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, performed the opening of the Arakel and Shake Aga-Sarkisian Library of the Western Diocese. Shake was a strong woman, and she was proud of her Armenian heritage. She instilled this pride as well as the importance of active participation in the church and in the efforts being carried out in the Diaspora in pursuit of the Armenian cause.
Two weeks before her death, the realization of her teachings continued to bear fruit. The Georgia State House had adopted legislation recognizing the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic as a free, independent, and sovereign democracy. This resolution was passed because of the efforts of her children, and knowing this, she was filled with joy.
She was a mother to all, and her soul and her heart will continue to live in each and every life she touched.
Shake Aga-Sarkisian is and will continue to be loved and remembered by her family:
Aroutioun and Noune Aga-Sarkisian, and their children, Mari, Hasmik, and Gevork.
Sarkis and Armine Aga-Sarkisian, and their children, Siranoush, Lousine, and Shakay.
Vatche and Azatuhi Balian
Zareh and Eliza Balian
Harut and Shake Balian
Arsen and Nona Barseghian
Arsine and Levon Antossian
Asatur and Azatuhi Repchian
Arsen and Hripsime Repchian
Gevork and Anahit Repchian
Karo and Armine Repchian
The family will receive friends on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 5-8 p.m. at Georgia Memorial Park Funeral Home, Winkenhofer Chapel, 2000 Cobb Parkway Southeast, Marietta, Georgia. The funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 12 p.m.