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Dt. Verjin Semerciyan Döşemeciyan (1902 – 06 Mayıs 1992)

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Verjin Semerciyan was born in Arapkir on 1902. She arrived in Istanbul with her mother Nektar and father Vahan Semerciyan after a long and tiring sea voyage: She was only two years old.

After graduating from the Kumkapı Bezciyan primary school, she continued her studies at the Bakırköy Bezazyan İdadi (high school). After graduating from high school, she began teaching at the Bezciyan, Boğosyan-Varvaryan and Bezezyan schools by the encouragement of her teachers. She enrolled to the Istanbul University School of Dentistry and returned to scholarship after nine years of teaching. Upon graduating as a dentist in 1934, she gave up her teaching career as she had opened her personal practice.

She married her colleague Vramşabuh Döşemeciyan and she had a son in 1939.

While the Döşemeciyans started practicing in two dental offices: one in Sirkeci and and the other in Kumkapı, the blows of first the “Twenty Classes” military conscriptions and then the “Wealth Tax” forced them to sell one of the offices and they were obliged to continue their practice from a single office in Kumkapı. This office remained open until Mr. Vramşabuh’s demise, and she continued to practice actively until she became the headmistress of the Sahakyan School in 1960.

1951 the Saturday before the Feast of Asdvadzadzin (Assumption) the wooden old building of the Bezciyan School Alumni Association (BOYD) burned down thus necessitating building a new one. During this period, along with some of her previous students, she was elected to the association’s board of directors and acted as its secretary for a long period. The building was rebuilt from the scratch and after its re-opening, it acted as one of the important centers for the Istanbul Armenian community. A few years later, the appreciative Bezciyan alumni named the main hall as “Verjin Döşemeciyan Hall”.[1]

After she completed her term at the BOYD, that is towards the end of the 50’s, the board of Surp Pırgiç Hospital asked her to revive and reorganize the Ladies Auxiliaries which had been dormant for some time. She accepted this duty with great enthusiasm and she led a very valuable and productive group of ladies and they put forth a very productive work that became a model for the future ladies’ auxiliaries. The blue smocks that they started wearing led to the creation of the moniker “Mavi Melekler” (Blue Angels).

When the Board of Directors of Sahakyan-Nunyan Primary School decided to elevate it to the middle school level they invited her to take over the job of headmistress. As she had missed such a job for many years she accepted it and kept it for 11 years (1960 -1971). During this period, in addition to running the school, she assumed the job of teaching Armenian language and literature classes, and Sahakyan-Nunyan also became a high school.

She authored “Western Armenian Authors Anthology” (Հաւաքածոյ Արեւմտահայ Գրողներու) (4 volumes) and “The Short History of Armenian Literature” (Համառօտ Պատմութիւն Հայ Գրականութեան) titled textbooks for use in Armenian literature classes. These volumes have seen many reprints and are still being used as textbooks today.

For many years she was a board member of the Turkish-Armenian Teachers Foundation and during this time she co-authored with the Diraduryan Siblings Armenian reading books for 4th and 5th graders.

She wrote many articles on different subjects to Marmara and Jamanak Armenian dailies and the Surp Pırgiç magazine.

Verjin Döşemeciyan without ever stopping from her reading and writing habits passed away on May 6, 1992 at the Surp Pırgiç Hospital and was interred at the Balıklı Cemetery.

Kirkor Döşemeciyan

Translated by Nurhan Becidyan

[1] During those years the possibility of creating the bust of Bezciyan Amira had generated a lot of interest amongst Istanbul Armenians, and on the suggestion of journalist Lili Koçunyan and the leadership of BOYD busts made by sculptor Erol Sarafyan were placed at the Kumkapı Saint Mary Armenian Cathedral and at Amira’s crypt in the Holy Resurrection Chapel.

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