Samuel ‘Sam’ Mirakian


CLEVELAND, Ohio — Samuel “Sam” Mirakian, 84, died in June.

Souren “Sam” Mirakian was born at home in Cleveland, Ohio on October 5, 1929, the youngest of three children of Hovaness Tarkanian Mirakian originally from Malatia, Turkey and Loosaper Pilibosian originally from Afion-Karahissar, Turkey. His siblings are his sister, Shakay Mooradian and his brother, the late Nazar “Nat” Mirakian. Sam grew up on the east side of Cleveland and graduated from South High School in 1948.

He joined the US Army during the Korean War in 1950 and served as a photographer, documenting conditions and activities in post-war Germany, before being honorably discharged in 1952.

He returned home to Cleveland where he attended Cleveland State University for two years.

While attending college, he worked in an office, eventually becoming the office manager. He could have stayed on in that capacity, but Sam’s always independent spirit and high energy, coupled with his dream of being self-employed, spurred him on to open his first business, Pandy’s, a small restaurant and lunch counter. He and his partner operated this business for a few years before moving on to other endeavors.

Ever the independent entrepreneur, Mirakian established a janitorial service business, John’s Maintenance, where his brother Nat later joined him as a partner. In addition they formed another maintenance company, Alert Maintenance. In time, the businesses grew to the point where they employed several cleaning crews. John’s Maintenance was responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of several downtown Cleveland skyscrapers as well as a number of suburban properties.

For many years, his focus was on his work, but in 1967 he met the equally energetic Sirpouhie “Sue” Khanjian and in 1968 she became his wife and life-long helpmate. Nine months later their daughter, Victoria Lee “Vicky”, was born. The following year Sam and Sue had their second child, Sam, Jr., and their family was complete. Family meant a great deal to Sam and he was a devoted husband and father.

In 1964, he was the founder of the Sons of Malatia, the longest-lasting Armenian organization in greater Cleveland, which is still in operation today, 50 years later. In addition to being a social group, the Sons of Malatia raised thousands of dollars over the years, which were then used to fund charitable activities in Armenia.

Sam’s service to the church was long and varied. He served as both a member and President of the Parish Council, as a member of the building committee for the hall, and with his wife Sue and his “buddy” Ann Abdalian, founded the Saturday Armenian School.

He was also a longtime and active member of the Tekeyan Cultural Association, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, and the Armenian Democratic League.

His interest and community involvement was not limited to Armenian activities and organizations; he was a 32nd degree Mason and a Silver Leader of the Disabled American Veterans.

His commitment to his Armenian heritage and his pride in being an American came together in two activities that typify how he combined these two very important aspects of his life. First was his involvement as producer and host for more than 25 years of the Armenian Radio Hour, which was broadcast every Sunday on WJCU. Sam and his wife Sue worked tirelessly on each week’s program, preparing from international news sources relevant and timely reports and recaps of the news that pertained to Armenia and Armenians. The program also contained a cultural component which included Armenian music, literary readings and human interest stories. Upon his retirement from the Armenian Radio Hour the staff had this to say about Mirakian:

“The show gave local Armenians, and most-importantly non-Armenians, great exposure to Armenian music, news and culture. Besides giving Armenians a voice on the airwaves, Sam was instrumental in raising thousands of dollars for WJCU… Sam’s dedication, hard work and positive attitude will be difficult to replicate.”

Second was the community outreach that husband and wife did by going to schools and giving presentations about the Armenian genocide. They spoke to students about a chapter of Armenian history that could possibly be seen by these students as boring or too ancient to matter. Sam and Sue personalized and put a face on what otherwise might have been an ignored or forgotten lesson. But the students to whom they spoke forgot neither them nor their history lesson. They were asked to return year after year.

In addition to his wife, he leaves his children, Vicky and Sam Jr.; siblings Shakay Mooradian (Cross) and Nazar Mirakian (Lucine).

His memorial service took place on Saturday, July 12 at St. Gregory of Narek Armenian Church. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to: St. Gregory of Narek Armenian Church, 678 Richmond Road, Richmond Heights, Ohio 44143 or Armenian General Benevolent Union, 55 E. 59th St., New York, NY 10022.