Obituary: Arax Kesdekian Suny


SunyFLOURTOWN, Penn. — Arax Suny died in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, at the age of 98. She died from old age with no underlying illness.

The mother of Ronald Grigor Suny, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, and Linda Suny Myrsiades, Professor of Comparative Literature at West Chester University, she is survived by four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Born Arax Kesdekian to Avedis Kesdekian and Azniv Tashjian Kesdekian in Philadelphia on March 17, 1917, she grew up in an Armenian household and Armenian community. Her first language was Armenian, and she remembered that she came home crying from her first day in school because no one understood her. Her father was a tailor and her mother an accomplished dressmaker. Avedis was a dedicated member of the Armenian General Benevolent Union member all his life, and both of her parents were faithful parishioners of Saint Sahag-Saint Mesrop Armenian Apostolic Church.

A graduate of West Philadelphia High School, she briefly worked for Bell Telephone before meeting and marrying Gurgen (George) Suny, the son of the Armenian musician Grikor Mirzoyan Suni. After Suni’s death in 1939, George took over his father’s chorus in which Arax sang as an alto. For several decades they were the heart and soul of the Suni Chorus in Philadelphia.

Arax partnered with her younger brother James in a dry cleaning store in Morton, Penn., but most of her life was spent raising her family. She was the acknowledged matriarch of the large Kesdekian clan, and her home was always open to the extended family and their friends. An accomplished cook, she was an ambassador for Armenian hospitality.

She was the older sister of theater director, Mesrop Kesdekian, Victoria Kazanjian and James Kesdekian. Her grandchildren are Yani Myrsiades, Leni Myrsiades Sevan Siranoush Suni and Anoush Tamar Suni. Her great-grandchildren are Charles John Myrsiades, Dean Myrsiades, Regan Heiner, Jacob Conrad and Nathan Conrad.