Difference between revisions of "Norma Karaian"

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University Law School in 1925, Mrs. Karaian ignored gender bias while
 
University Law School in 1925, Mrs. Karaian ignored gender bias while
 
becoming widely recognized in her field. She spent the bulk of her
 
becoming widely recognized in her field. She spent the bulk of her
career at the Boston-based firm Gaston & Snow and was highly regarded
+
career at the Boston-based firm Gaston
for her legal work in real estate.
 
 
 
"She was very accomplished and so well-known in the legal arena when
 
it concerned real estate law," said her son John, adding that Mrs.
 
Karaian handled the title for the Prudential Center's construction.
 
"I remember her saying that she could call a title company and upon
 
her name alone being mentioned they would issue a title policy.
 
That's how well-respected she was."
 
 
 
Born Yaghnor Maksoodian in Providence in 1904, she changed her first
 
name to Norma after the actress Norma Talmadge to "sound American,"
 
friend and fellow attorney Cerise Jalelian said. She began her
 
working career at the age of 8, operating the cash register at her
 
father's store.
 
 
 
She graduated from Boston University Law School at the age of 20, but
 
had to wait a year to take the bar exam since she had not yet turned
 
21. In the interim, she found a job at a law office that paid $15 per
 
week.
 
 
 
Although she wished to become a litigator, women were banned from the
 
practice at the time, Jalelian said.
 
 
 
"She didn't look at being female as an obstacle; she just thought
 
everyone should be treated the same," she said. "She was really born
 
before her time."
 
 
 
Mrs. Karaian found her calling when she became a real estate attorney
 
in 1926. She remained at the post until 1941, when she retired and
 
had three children.
 
 
 
However, in 1951, hard times struck. Her husband, Leo J. Karaian, an
 
organic chemist, died. Mrs. Karaian began performing contract work
 
for the firm of Hoag & Sullivan. Even without a high income, she put
 
her children first, her son said.
 
 
 
"She always made sure if she could buy us one pair of shoes, it would
 
always be the best," he said. "She wanted to give her children the
 
very best because that's how much she thought of us."
 
 
 
The family lived in an apartment in Watertown until 1969, when Mrs.
 
Karaian purchased her first and only house, where she lived with her
 
son.
 
 
 
She continued contracting before joining the firm Rackemann, Sawyer &
 
Brewster for one year. In 1972, she moved to Gaston & Snow, where she
 
remained until the firm folded in 1991.
 
 
 
For the remainder of her life, Mrs. Karaian took on legal projects
 
and was honored with numerous awards. She was a member of numerous
 
organizations and in 1954, she served a year as president of the
 
Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers.
 
 
 
Her son said that at Boston's finest restaurants waiters would vie
 
for the right to serve her.
 
 
 
"People were attracted to my mother like a magnet," he said. "I've
 
never thought of my mother about being anything but my mother, but
 
there was this aura about her that would be totally engaging to
 
people."
 
 
 
For her centennial in September, a celebration was held at Anthony's
 
Pier 4 in Boston. Mrs. Karaian personally greeted each of the more
 
than 100 guests.
 
 
 
"We ended the evening with my dancing with mom to Nat King Cole's
 
'Unforgettable,' which I think she is," her son said.
 
 
 
Besides her son, she leaves two daughters, Lenore of Waltham and
 
Marilyn Hollisian of Watertown.
 
 
 
A funeral service will be held at noon tomorrow at St. James Armenian
 
Church in Watertown.
 
 
 
{{copy}}
 
 
 
[[Category:Armenian Individuals|Karaian, Norma]]
 

Revision as of 01:44, 11 April 2007

Boston Globe, MA
January 18, 2005

Norma Karaian, 100; was Boston real estate attorney
By Glenn E. Yoder, Globe Correspondent

Norma M. Karaian, considered the first American-born Armenian female attorney in the United States, died Sunday at her home in Watertown. She was 100.

Starting her career as a title examiner after graduating from Boston University Law School in 1925, Mrs. Karaian ignored gender bias while becoming widely recognized in her field. She spent the bulk of her career at the Boston-based firm Gaston