|Death: ||Dec. 13, 1999|
Alma Arax, a prominent member of the Armenian-American community and one of the first grandmothers to counsel troubled youth at the county Juvenile Hall, died Tuesday at the age of 90.
Alma delighted her family and friends, including author William Saroyan, with never ending surprises from her kitchen. To be invited to the Arax house in the 1940's-1980's was to sit down to a dinner of pungent political debate, speechmaking, poetry and an elabotate meal that always included lamb and two of her signature dishes; a colorful rice cooked with apricots and other dried fruits and a plate of artichokes dressed in a secret lemony herb sauce. It was a concoction her children and grandchildren tried for years to duplicate but could never quite master.
Alma, who had the energy and will of three women, considered her life outside the kitchen just as important. Alongside her husband, Aram, she worked in the family grocery stores and fought for labor unions, equal housing and civil rights and minorities and protested the indiscriminate bombing that marked the Vietnam War.
Alma Chakurian was born in Hartford, CT., in 1909, and like so many Armenians who came west, her family bought a vineyard on the outskirts of Fresno.She graduated from Sanger High School in 1927, and while majoring in art at Fresno Normal College, she was serenaded by a neighboring farm boy and would-be poet named Aram Arax.The Chakurians and Araxes stood on opposite side of the Armenian political divide and Alma married Aram over her family's protest.
They devoted their 60 years together to their children and grandchildren and progressive causes, including fostering closer ties between the United States and Armenia, then a Soviet Republic. Alma was a treasurer of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, a member of the Armenian Progressive League and a founding officer of the Armenian Old Age Home.
In her senior years, after the murder of her son, Ara, she vowed to do something about the root causes of violent crime. She volunteered her days counseling and educating juvenile delinquents incarcerated in Fresno County, and was awarded Foster Grandmother of the Year.
Above all, Alma was fiercely devoted to her family. She was the force that kept them together during tough times.
She is survived by her son, Navo, and his wife, Josette; her daughter, Jeanette Arax Melnick and her husband, Danny; her sister Zep Kelunian; her brother, Shant Chakurian; her seven grandchildren, Mark, Brian, Michelle, Don, Anya, Aaron and Lenny and nine great-grandchildren.
Burial Unknown Specifically Fresno.
Aram Arax (1900 - 1989)*
Ara Arax (1931 - 1972)*
Masis Ararat Cemetery
Created by: D.A.R.
Record added: Dec 13, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 12674271