Author, Activist H. Martin Deranian Dies

Dr. H. Martin Deranian in his Navy uniform

Dr. H. Martin Deranian in his Navy uniform

WORCESTER — H. Martin Deranian, 94, a prominent Worcester Dentist, died on September 26, at his residence.

Born in Worcester on August 21, 1922, he was the son of Marderos and Varter (Bogigian) Deranian.

A graduate of South High School, Deranian furthered his education at Clark University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1945. Continuing on, he entered the University of Pennsylvania and received his D.D.S. in 1947. From 1947-1951, he was an Associate of Dr. Ronald M. King in Boston, prior to entering the United States Dental Reserve – Dental Corps of the US Navy in 1951. As a Lieutenant ( J.G. ) Dr. Deranian served overseas and independent duty during the Korean Conflict from 1951-1953.

Deranian had been in the private practice of general dentistry in Worcester from 1953 to his retirement in 2014 after more than 61 years.

He was a life member of the American Dental Society; a member, editor, and past president of the Worcester District Dental Society; a member and chairman of numerous committees of the Massachusetts Dental Society; past member and president of the American Academy of the History of Dentistry; a member of the American Prosthodontic Society; a member of the American Cleft Palate Association; a member of the American Medical Writer’s Association; and the founding president of the Armenian American Dental Society.

Community involvement was a hallmark for Deranian, as he served on numerous boards and committees i.e., Central Massachusetts Health Planning and Coordination Committee; Model Cities Health Supportive Services; Prescription Parents – a Cleft palate group; Planning Council of Community Services of Greater Worcester; and the Visiting Nurses Association of Worcester.

Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America, the nation’s premiere donor and volunteer-supported youth mentoring organization had a special place in his heart for over 50 years.

Deranian was described on numerous occasions by friends, associates, and public figures as the consummate gentleman whose genuine approach to issues for humanity had no equal. On November 6, 2014, Deranian was presented a Certificate of Special Recognition for his Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community by the Congress of the United States.

As a collector and exhibitor of Antique Dental Equipment, Deranian established a turn-of-the century museum at Tufts Dental School of Dental Medicine.

Among the many honors and awards Dr. Deranian has received were the Worcester Medical News Wisteria Award; the Who’s Who in the East Award (Marquis) recognition; the Hayden-Harris Award of the American Academy of the History of Dentistry; and the creation of the Dr. H. Martin Deranian Annual Fellowship Award established May 5, 1999 in his honor.

Deranian was passionate about his Armenian heritage and was a supporter of the Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. He was a 50-year member of Montacute Lodge of Masons, and a member of the Knights of Vartan since 1947.

Described by many as a “Renaissance Man” for his approach to issues as being a rebirth or revival, and noted as a prolific researcher and writer, Dr. Deranian’s numerous publications included The Village of Hussenig: Memories of the Heart and Hearth (1981); Hussenig: The Origin, History, and Destruction of an Armenian Town (1994); Worcester is America: The Story of Worcester’s Armenians, The Early Years (1995); Miracle Man of the Western Front: Dr. Varaztad H. Kazanjian, Pioneer Plastic Surgeon (2007); President Calvin Coolidge and The Armenian Orphan Rug (2013, 2014); Hagop Bogigian; Armenian American Pioneer and Philanthropist (2016). “Deported/a Dream Play” by Joyce Van Dyke based on the friendship between the playwright’s grandmother and Deranian’s mother, both of whom survived the deportation and Genocide as “resilient women.” (2012)

The Armenian Assembly of America released a statement on Deranian’s passing. He had worked with the Assembly on the display of the Armenian Orphan Rug at the White House Visitor’s Center as well as its companion sister rug that was owned by Dr. Deranian.

The Assembly had urged successive administrations dating back to President Bill Clinton to release the rug for an official exhibition and had worked with the Armenian Caucus to have the carpet displayed, not just at the Smithsonian, but also at the White House and in the U.S. Congress. “I am deeply moved by this action,” Deranian told the Assembly in 2013. “This issue has come to light after many years of hard work. We are speaking on behalf of the [orphan] weavers and what they would want us to do,” Deranian said.

Deranian was the driving force to release the rug and was a guest speaker for many Assembly events, discussing his book titled President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug. He was honored by the Armenian Assembly in December 2013 and spoke during the Assembly’s 2014 Annual Board of Trustees Meeting about community efforts to have the Coolidge Rug released and displayed. He presented the Armenian Orphan “Sister Rug” in November 2014 with Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) in Los Angeles where he was presented with a Certificate of Special Recognition for his Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community by the Congress of the United States.

“I am saddened to learn of Martin’s passing. We learned much from Martin who first of all was a proud Clark University alumnus. Despite his quiet demeanor, there was a driven passion within him which, when away from his dental practice, made known what happened to his mother, her village, and survivors of the Armenian Genocide,” Assembly Vice Chairman and Counselor Robert Kaloosdian said. “Martin contributed significantly to the scholarship of the Armenian Genocide through a lifetime devoted to research, translations, and authoring several books which added to the study of that subject,” he added.

Deranian leaves his wife of 62 years, Virginia (Derderian) Deranian; a son, Jonathan Deranian of Grafton, and a daughter, Lydia Deranian-George of Shrewsbury; three grandchildren, Chelsey, Jacob and Samantha.

The funeral was held on September 30, in the Armenian Church of Our Saviour, Worcester, officiated by Der Aved Terzian. Burial followed in Hope Cemetery, Worcester.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Dr. Deranian’s memory to the Armenian Church of Our Saviour, or to Clark University, Armenian Studies Program.