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Last Armenian Genocide survivors in Massachusetts dies aged 109

WEYMOUTH, Mass. — Asdghig “Starrie” Alemian, one of the last Armenian Genocide survivors in Massachusetts and a strong presence at every Genocide commemoration at the State House, died on September 5, 2019. She was 109.

She was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, which took the lives of her parents and brothers, leaving her orphaned at age 5. She lived in an orphanage in Syria until 12 years old when her uncle Garabed Tetezian assisted her and her sister Anna in coming to the United States.

Starrie worked alongside her husband in running Alemian’s Delicatessen for more than 30 years.

Beginning in the 1980s, Alemian was honored yearly at the State House for Armenian Martyrs Day. On her 90th birthday, she traveled to Egypt and Syria with family, revisiting parts of her childhood.

She liked to celebrate her birthdays at the Red Parrot in Hull.

She was skilled at needlepoint, Armenian needle lace, piano and cooking.

She was a proud and devoted mother, active in the PTA and the DeMolay Mothers Club.

She opened her home to anyone who needed her.

From left, Claire Alemian, Rep. David Muradian, Gov. Charlie Baker and Starrie Alemian in 2018

She was the wife of the late Sarkis Edward Alemian; mother of Alan Alemian of Maryland, Susan Alemian Bentley of Pennsylvania, Stephan Alemian and his wife, Sharon, of Weymouth, Claire Alemian of Weymouth, the late Edward Alemian and his widow Alice McMasters of Fla., the late Sylvia Pope and the late Commander Haig Alemian, United States Navy, and his widow Jeanette of Virginia; sister of the late Anna Kaprelian;. She also leaves 12 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great-grandchildren as well as y many nieces and nephews.

Her funeral was on Monday, September 9, at the McDonald Keohane Funeral Home, South Weymouth. A funeral service was held at St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church, Watertown, on Tuesday. Burial was in Old North Cemetery, Weymouth.

A story in the Patriot Ledger by Sue Scheible in 2015, detailed some of the tragedies she witnessed as a child, as well as her later life, filled with a large family and lots of hard work and love: “Asdghig (meaning Little Star) Tetezian, 12 years old, arrived in this country in 1922 and lived with her uncle in Weymouth, in the Sunny Lea apartments, called ‘the block.’ She worked in a slipper factory and through relatives, met Sarkis Alemian, also from Armenia. When she turned 16, they were married in 1926, and from the start, their home welcomed relatives who needed a place to stay. She raised seven children, as well as her uncle’s daughter, and ‘she did all this without ever one thought about it,’ her son, Stephen, says.

The couple worked in the family store, taking off only Sunday afternoons, and as they saved their money, they bought some property, including a place in Marshfield. Alemian thought nothing of packing up a picnic, including the shish kebabs and grille, taking the children to the beach, and climbing down with the youngest on her back. 

The article continued: “Alemian’s sunny disposition veers off course only when she begins to talk about her memories of the genocide: the long forced walk, how family members were promised food and “instead of bread they got the bullet.” For years, those painful memories were wiped out and then “little by little,” they came back. Claire quickly redirects her to happier memories – making popcorn for her uncle’s parties, large family picnics.”

To see a portion of her Patriot Ledger interview, visit

https://mirrorspectator.com/2019/09/12/asdghig-starrie-alemian-one-of-last-armenian-genocide-survivors-in-state-dies/

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