Genocide Survivor Areka Der Kazarian Dies


WATERTOWN — Areka (Janikian) Der Kazarian of Watertown, survivor of the Armenian Genocide, passed away on May 18, 2013 at the age of 101.

She was the wife of the late Harry Der Kazarian. She leaves her children Dr. Alan K. Der Kazarian and his wife Isabelle of Belmont, Gregory Der Kazarian of Arlington and Edward Der Kazarian of Watertown; grandchildren Alan H. Der Kazarian and his wife Kathy of Belmont, Susan Der Kazarian and her husband Michael Malone of Westchester County, NY and Dr. Mark Der Kazarian and his wife Jennifer of Carlisle; great-grandchildren Claire, Charles, Kaitlyn Der Kazarian and Gavin and Charlotte Malone; brother, Charles Janikian of Maynard and many nieces and nephews.

Her siblings Artin, Gorun and Aram Janikian predeceased her.

Born in Marash, Historic Armenia, she spent her childhood traversing the Middle East as a result of the Genocide, including living in Lebanon, Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt before settling in Marseilles, France, for two years, at the age of 10.

She moved with her family to Watertown in 1924 where she lived for 90 years.

Der Kazarian was one of the many Genocide survivors who found work at the Hood Rubber Plant in Watertown.

In a story from three years ago by Tom Vartabedian, she said, “Where else could we go?” recalling earning $18 a week doing piecework as a cementer. “I would turn the money over to my parents and get a quarter back for spending purposes. Hood Rubber opened its doors to immigrants from many foreign lands who had no language or working skills. We learned it on the job.”

Documentary filmmaker Roger Hagopian turned these stories into “Destination Watertown: The Armenians of Hood Rubber.”

The project, which began in 2003 as a short highlight film, reached fruition after six years of research and interviews, delving into the lives of Armenian refugees looking to establish a decent lifestyle in America, in this case Watertown.

Services were held at St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown on Friday, May 24. Interment was in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge.

Expressions of sympathy may be made in her memory to St. James Armenian Church or Armenia Fund USA, Inc., 80 Maiden Lane, Suite 2205, NY, NY 10038.