Editor’s Note: Dr. Misak Abdulian, a beloved member of our community passed away on November 7. During funeral services on November 18, Dr. Abdulian’s biography was presented, highlighting some of his accomplishments as a physician and his unwavering commitment to the Armenian community. Martha Missirlian, also wrote an appreciation, which was read on that day. Below we present both pieces in memory of Dr. Abdulian
Misak Abdulian was born on June 23, 1934 in Kessab, Syria. He was the seventh of eight children of Hovhannes abdulian and martha churukian. He was raised in a loving Christian home with his two sisters Araxie and Mary and his 5 brothers Hagop, Daniel, Vahe, Vasken and Hrayr. He attended elementary school at the Kessab Armenian Evangelical School and then continued his education at the American boys’ school in Latakia. He entered Aleppo college for his freshman and sophomore years. He then transferred to the American University of Beirut where he completed his college education and received his bachelor’s degree.
In 1958, Misak attended medical school at the American University of Beirut. Shortly after his graduation he immigrated to the United States in 1963. He started his internship at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. After his surgical internship, he entered residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Chicago Lying-In Hospital. One year later, he switched specialties and moved to Lexington, Kentucky. There he entered residency in the field of urology. Upon completing his residency in Urology, he joined the US Army. After only 6 weeks of basic training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas, he was sent to Japan to work in a US Army base hospital. During his 26 months of service, he treated and cared for wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War. He served as the sole urologist for the entire Hospital. He was very grateful to have the opportunity to serve his country and was very fulfilled in helping those who risked their lives to protect the freedoms of our country. After his service, he was honorably discharged and became a citizen of the United States.
In 1972, he came to Los Angeles to start his career as a urologist. He joined a large urology group and was on staff at many hospitals in the greater Los Angeles area including good Samaritan Hospital, Hollywood Presbyterian and St. Joseph’s Hospital Burbank. He was a very hard worker and often would go to multiple hospitals throughout the course of the day.
Although his career was very fulfilling, a very important component of his life was missing. That changed on January 24, 1975 when Misak married Hourig Khanjian from Beirut, Lebanon. They started their lives together in Los Angeles and enjoyed 42 years of marriage during which time they were blessed with 2 wonderful children Mari Tamar and Michael Hovig. In 2011, Mari married Leif Olsen. In 2005, Michael married Sylvia Ashour. They have two daughters, Alene who is 9 and Alexia who is 6. Misak’s granddaughters were a great source of happiness for him. He loved his family and enjoyed spending time with them.
Misak was very hard-working and always stressed the importance of hard work and perseverance. Through example, he taught and encouraged his children to become educated and to work hard. He supported them throughout their educational pursuits and provided them with every opportunity for success. Mari went on to become a physician’s assistant. Michael followed in his father’s footsteps and became a physican. He currently works as an orthopaedic surgeon.
Misak loved his work. He was a very dedicated physician. He often would go to work before sunrise and come home in the evening. He was very compassionate and empathetic towards his patients. He also did a fair amount of charity work for those who were unable to afford medical care. Besides caring for thousands of patients throughout his career, he also served on numerous hospital boards. He loved the medical profession and dedicated his life to helping others. He always put others before himself as a true Steward of God would do.
Misak had a strong Christian faith. He lived his life to serve God and did so through his work. He loved his church and attended regularly. He has served as a trustee of the church for several years. Through his faith and involvement with the church community, he fostered an environment for his children to grow and develop their own strong faith which has helped shape their lives.
He was also very active in the Armenian community and selflessly volunteered for many different organizations. He was very active in the Kessab Educational Association not only as a Committee Member but also serving as the chairman for several years. He was one of the founding members of the Armenian American medical Society of California and has served as the president as well as a board member for many years. He would often provide advice, encouragement and support to new, young physicians starting their practice in the area. He also helped in the founding of the Merdinian Armenian school and was involved in the school board throughout his life.
He had many friends and colleagues. He was well loved by all of them. He enjoyed seeing them and spending time with them in various social settings. As many of you know, he had a talent for telling jokes and humorous stories. He would often lighten the atmosphere and bring a smile to everyone’s face. He especially enjoyed his Saturday mornings where he would meet with a group of his friends for breakfast. A tradition that he had participated in for over 30 years.
In 2013, Misak was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Throughout this process, he still continued to work and to see patients. The satisfaction he derived from being able to continue to care for his patients was an important factor in keeping him strong. After 43 years of service to his patients and the medical community, Misak retired in 2015. Over the next 2 years, his health slowly declined and he became progressively weaker.
On Tuesday, November 7, 2017 Misak went to be with the Lord. He peacefully passed away at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, his second home. He was 83 years old.
Misak was a beloved husband, father; grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. He is survived by his wife Hourig, his daughter Mari and her husband Leif, his son Michael and his wife Sylvia, granddaughters Alene and Alexia, his 2 remaining brothers Daniel and Vasken, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, cousins, nieces and nephews.
He will be greatly missed and we will cherish his beautiful memory forever.
Remembering Uncle Misak
BY MARTHA MISSIRLIAN
I wish I could be with you today to honor Uncle Misak. There are no better emissaries than my children to relay this message. They also have also been deeply touched by their great uncle.
My first memory of uncle Misak is as a young girl when he first came to the United States. He was staying with us and we had just stepped outside the front door when I heard my dad say, “Misak! Come inside and get your sweater!” I looked at uncle and told him I thought it wasn’t cold. This grown man, a physician, said, “If your father told me to jump off a bridge into the water, I would obey him!” He went inside, got his sweater and proceeded to explain the concepts of obedience and honor while also illuminating the deep respect he had for his older brother, admonishing me to have the same. His reaction may be THE moment when I decided I would choose that higher road of filial respect.
Those of us fortunate enough to be in Uncle Misak and Auntie Hourig’s home know the rich aroma of kebab on the grill outside the kitchen on Christmas Eve. How we all appreciate the hours of dissecting fat from the meat as he prepared delicious, bite-sized pieces for us to enjoy, like a real surgeon. But really it is the aroma of the Abdulian home that I think about. You and uncle created such a warm, peaceful home with the fragrance of love and acceptance. You always, ALWAYS encouraged us to be our best. I thank you for that.
It is an end of an era when we lose the fine people born in Kessab. With great determination, they studied and labored– making them into their best possible selves. They drank in the riches of their distinct geography and heritage–along with the gifts from remarkable missionaries– and became people of great character. Mari, Michael, Leif, Sylvia, Aline and Alexia, I recognize that legacy in you.
When I heard of uncle’s passing, I couldn’t help but rejoice as I envisioned the warm reunion he was experiencing with his family, especially with the angelic, young mother he lost when he was just a child. The warmth he must be feeling with his family and friends, in the presence of his Savior, gives me immense joy.
Auntie Hourig, thank you for taking such good care of uncle. Through these difficult years you kept your humor and joy. My dad would always say that Hourig was the best thing to happen to Misak; I would add, and to the Abdulian family.
I pledge to keep the fragrance of Uncle’s life a part of my own.