Dr. Antranig Chalabian, Author Of Historical Volumes, Dies


DETROIT — Dr. Antranig Chalabian, the author of several volumes of Armenian history, died on April 12, at his home in Southfield. He was 89.

Born in Kessab, Syria, he was predeceased by his wife, Siran.

He leaves his children, Annie (and Tom) Hoglind, Dr. Jack and Gayle Chelebian and Karine and Hovsep Koundakjian, as well as eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Chalabian wrote several volumes on Armenian history and historical figures, which went on to sell well. He is best known for his biography of General Antranik.

After graduating from the local Armenian Evangelical School, he studied at Aleppo College and graduated in 1944. He taught in his former school in Kessab for one year. Then he returned to Aleppo College where he taught English and arithmetic to the middle school classes from 1944 to 1949.

In the summer of 1949, Chalabian moved to Beirut, where his family had settled in 1945. He taught English for one year at the AGBU Hovagimian-Manoogian High School. Then he took a position in the physiology department of the American University of Beirut, where he remained for 27 years. During his last 14 years there, he worked as a free-lance medical illustrator, illustrating almost entirely three medical books and thousands of research papers. Meanwhile he contributed articles to the city’s Djanasser, Spiurk and Nayiri papers.

In 1977, Chalabian and his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Detroit. At that time he became public relations director at the AGBU Alex Manoogian School.

In 1984 he published his first bi-lingual book General Antranik and the Armenian Revolutionary Movement. The book became an instant best seller and was printed in more than 75,000 copies in Armenia. He donated the proceeds from that print to the Karabagh freedom fighters. In 1989 the History Department of the University of Armenia invited him to defend his exhaustive historical study. Upon a successful defense he was awarded a doctorate in history.

The book was later translated into Turkish and Spanish.

In 1991 he published his second book in Armenian titled, Revolutionary Figures. Dr. Arra Avakian translated the book in English. In 1999 he published his third book, Armenia After the Coming of Islam in English. The book became very popular and had two printings. In 2003, he published his fourth book in Armenian titled Dro. His son translated the book into English. In 2009 Indo-European Publishers printed the book.

Chalabian was also an invited contributor to Military History magazine, where he published articles dealing with Armenian history. Chalabian collaborated with Dr. Stanley Kerr after discovering the latter’s personal notes in the attic of the Physiology Department. Kerr had moved to New Jersey after retiring in 1965 from his career as the chairman of the Biochemistry Department of the American University of Beirut. However, he had left his notes behind assuming that the notes were long lost through the years. Kerr had kept his notes and taken hitherto unpublished pictures while serving in Near East Relief. In 1919, he was transferred to Marash, where he headed the American relief operations. The outcome of their collaborative work was the publication of Kerr’s The Lions of Marash in 1973.

While collaborating with Kerr, Henry Wilfrid Glockler, a one-time controller at AUB and a neighbor of the Kerrs in Princenton, entrusted Antranig Chalabian his personal memoirs. Chalabian edited the memoirs and had it published in Beirut in 1969 by Sevan Press. The book is titled Interned in Ourfa.

Chalabian received numerous accolades and recognition. Armenian organizations in various states invited him to lecture. The mayor of Southfield designated in 2005 a day as Dr. Antranig Chelebian Day in recognition of his goodwill ambassadorship of the city through his readers worldwide.

A memorial visitation will be held on Saturday, April 30, 5 to 6 p.m., at the Armenian Congregational Church, Southfield. Memorial donations in his memory may be made to the AGBU Alex & Marie Manoogian School or Armenian Congregational Church or Tekeyan Cultural Association.