To our fellow Ethio-Armenians, I have sad news to announce. Raffi Hagopian, age 43, passed away in his sleep on December 7th, 2007. Raffi was born in Jerusalem and at the age of 3 moved to Kuwait with his parents, Hagop and Hopig Hagopian. At age 16 he went to finish his High School in London, England. Once he graduated, he discovered the music scene of London. He studied music and playing the guitar. He returned for a short time to join his parents in Kuwait. But he was restless and immigrated to Los Angeles, California. In Los Angeles, he followed his dream as a guitar player. He was also an aficionado of "Bruce Lee" and martial arts. Over time he earned his Black Belt in Karate. He had met his soul mate and announced that they were going to get married on January 7th, 2008. Unfortunately faith had other plans for him. His broad smile and his bon vivant attitude we'll be missed by many.
By now, you might ask how is this young man related to Ethio-Armenians?
Well back before the Italian Occupation of Ethiopia, a young man by the name of Mihran Topjian came to join his sister Lia (Topjian) Avakian. Lia was married to Artin Avakian Sr. He made a successful go at being a Tailor and training many Armenian apprentices in Addis Ababa. A few years before the Italians invaded, he decided to go back to Jerusalem to establish his own family. He had a negative experience while in Addis Ababa. One night while he was sleeping at his sisters house, a robber came into his room. He had dug into the house through the basement. Mihran was terrorized to find a naked black man, with his body doused in butter, robbing his room. Even though my grandpa Artin Avakian came to the rescue, Mihran made up his mind that Africa was not a place he desired to establish his family.
My grandparents and my mother, Izabelle Avakian, always received letters and photos of Mihran's family from Jerusalem. It was a dinner ritual to read aloud the letters and share the photos. It seemed to me that my grandma and my mother enjoyed the most about any news from Jerusalem.
Years later, my mother Izabelle, now living in Los Angeles, heard that her cousins were indeed living in California. Through her quest to connect with her long lost cousins, she was able to make her dream come true in 1983. Izabelle, my mother, enjoyed visiting Hopig her cousin and enjoying the love and warmth of her cousins.
I hope this clarifies my mother's connection and blood relation with Raffi Hagopian . He leaves behind his parents Hagop and Hopig who are both retired, his sister Taline who is a Financial Analyst in Los Angeles, and his younger brother Viken who is a lawyer in Glendale, California, also 3 nieces and nephews and his fiancee Kate. God bless his soul and may he rest in peace.
Our condolences to the Hagopian and Avakian families. May Raffi's soul rest in peace.