Marcus Alexander Mamourian was born in Philadelphia in 1924, to Alexander Mamourian, born in Izmir, Turkey, and Yeran Mamourian, born in Constantinople, Turkey. He was the oldest of four children, and had two younger sisters, Claire and Marie, and one younger brother, Alex. Although he entered first grade unable to speak a word of English, he ultimately became valedictorian of his graduating class at West Philadelphia High. He worked at many jobs to support his family during the Great Depression, including delivering newspapers, working at a soda fountain, and playing jazz piano at local social events.
Based on his outstanding high school record, he was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania where he exercised his acting talent with the Penn Players and his athletic skills on the freshman rowing team. But after one semester at the Wharton School, Pearl Harbor was attacked. He soon afterwards enlisted in the army along with many of his Penn classmates, knowing that he would lose his scholarship in doing so. At officer training school he was awarded the rank of second lieutenant and, because he spoke French fluently, he received intensive training in military intelligence although the war ended before he was sent overseas. He would humorously say that he learned in military intelligence school to “deny everything” when accused and “believe only half of what you see and nothing that you read.” At the end of WWII he completed his studies at the Wharton School on the GI bill, which allowed many veterans to attend college, graduating in 1948.
In 1949 he married Maritza Hachikian, also from Philadelphia. After a courtship interrupted by the war, their marriage would last for over 70 years and Maritza stayed by his side to his very last day. After college he worked for various large insurance companies in Philadelphia, eventually owning his own agency in Ardmore, PA, which he ran for 30 years. He had two children, Alicia (Mamourian) Evereklian and Dr. Alexander Mamourian. In 1959, he and his family settled in Bryn Mawr, PA to a house they made their home for the next 60 years. He was devoted to his church, St. Sahag & St. Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church in Wynnewood, where he served on Parish Council for many, many years. He was an ardent supporter of the only Armenian school in Philadelphia, the Armenian Sisters Academy in Radnor, PA, and served as their advisor on insurance matters for many years.
He found great pleasure in the outdoors where he enjoyed hunting and was a champion target shooter. But in the evenings, he could be found regularly with a book, favoring fiction novels, especially those by the great authors Melville, Conrad, and Balzac. He also enjoyed reading mysteries, especially those by Arthur Conan Doyle and Raymond Chandler. As a result of his voracious reading and a remarkable memory, he could speak knowledgeably on almost any subject. He was a reliable repository of information on World War I and World War II, the Civil War, European history, World Literature (especially French), and the movies of the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. He could be relied upon to remember not only the lead actor of any film from that era, but also the date of its release, the director, and at least a line or two of dialogue. He also loved jazz and collected lyrics to jazz and blues songs of the early 20th century. When he wasn’t wearing his khaki safari jacket, he dressed in custom-made suits and had a remarkable ability to look fresh in a suit and tie on even the hottest days of the summer.
But his greatest joy was his wife and his family, which, in addition to his son and daughter, grew to include a son-in-law, Viken, daughter-in-law, Pamela, and grandchildren Victoria, Alexis, Ani, Molly, Elizabeth and Marcus. He had two great-grandchildren as well.
He worked continuously into his 80s at his Insurance agency where he found pleasure in serving his long-term clients. But over his last ten years he suffered from a variety of debilitating illnesses, which greatly impaired his quality of life, yet he never once complained. Although he eventually lost his sight, hearing, and finally his mobility, he never lost his sense of taste, graciously thanking whomever helped him in his weakened state. His keen intellect and sense of humor never failed him and he was undeniably a gentleman to his very last day. He embodied all the qualities that are now associated with the “Greatest Generation:” responsibility, integrity, work ethic, and humility. He will be sincerely missed by many.
Hope is the Thing with Feathers
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Armenian Apostolic church,
630 Clothier Rd, Wynnewood, PA 19096, or the Armenian Sisters Academy, 440 Gulph Rd, Radnor PA 19087.
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St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church
630 Clothier Rd., Wynnewood PA 19096
Armenian Sisters Academy
440 Upper Gulph Rd., Radnor PA 19087