Appreciation: Antranik M. Kechichian (Beylan, 1931 – Valence, 2015)


Keshishian 1-9By Hagop Vartivarian

Antranik M. Kechichian was born on May 30, 1931 in the town of Beylan in the province or sanjak of Alexandretta, today in Turkey, to parents from Hasanbeyli, Cilicia. His father’s name was Madteos Agha Kechichian. Antranik received his elementary education at the local Armenian elementary school.

His parents, who were the founders of the local branches of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) in Beylan and the surrounding areas, enrolled their practically from birth as a member. After moving to Beirut with his family as a result of the evacuation of Alexandretta in 1941, he continued his membership, and in 1956 received the certificate of a veteran member.

He participated in the AGBU’s activities from the time he was an adolescent. For a while he participated in the Lebanese Armenian Rebirth Association (Veradznount). In 1947, he founded the athletic branch of this organization, and in 1950, its student chapter.

After this, he expanded his activities in the ranks of the AGBU’s Armenian Youth Association. He was responsible for its athletics division from 1951 to 1954 and its junior division in 1953. From 1950 to 1954 he was the champion athlete of AYA in Lebanon in the 10,000-meter run, and won numerous cross-country races.

In this period, he became the sports correspondent for Beirut’s Zartonk daily newspaper. The interest he generated led other newspapers to establish similar sports columns. He then became one of the founders of the Zartonk-Spor weekly newspaper, edited by Edmond Y. Azadian, Osheen Keshishian and Vatche Semerdjian.

He joined the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADLP) at a young age. He was involved in Armenian political and social activities from 1956, when he became a member of the ADLP Lebanese District Committee, and of Lebanon’s Tekeyan Cultural Association executive board.

On October 11, 1976, he moved to Valence, France due to the Lebanese civil war. He was an interior designer by profession in Lebanon, and after moving to France, he went to Jedda, Saudia Arabia, to work for four years in this field.

After Hagop Kassardjian moved to Paris, France, and became chairman of the ADLP French District Committee, Kechichian established close ties with the former and became an important participant in the work of reorganizing the ADLP in France and Western Europe. For many years, Antranik served as a member of the ADLP District Committee of France. Through his work in the ADLP and the AGBU, he cooperated closely with Berge Setrakian, a lawyer who later became AGBU president.

He founded the Valence chapter of the ADLP. He married Hermine Kahkedjian, and had four children – Noubar, Shahnour, Asbed and Antranik Junior. Hermine and each of his children became members of the ADLP family. Noubar showed great interest in French political life and became a member of the Valence municipal council.

Antranik Kechichian for a period of time published the Sharach monthly periodical, which though politically freethinking, generally followed the ADLP line. Antranik’s brother Noubar entered the ranks of the clergy and was given the name Vazken. He became one of the staunch defenders of Echmiadzin, and as a bishop, was elected as the first Primate of the newly created Armenian Diocese of Canada. He remained in office as such until his premature death. Like his brother, Archbishop Vazken had accepted the ADLP oath, and remained faithful to it until the end.

Kechichian died in Valence on December 25, 2015. His burial service took place in St. Sahag Church of Valence on December 30, 2015.