Friday, September 10, 2021
1:30 PM EDT
Portage First Reformed Church
7905 S Westnedge Ave.
Portage, MI 49002
Graveside committal services will be held following the Memorial Service at the Portage Central Cemetery.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
First Reformed Church of Portage
7905 Westnedge Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49002
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Mary’s amazing story began in 1924 in Khartoum, Sudan, Africa. Mary and her family were of Armenian descent living in Africa. There, Mary and her siblings enjoyed a good life. Mary was very athletic as a runner, basketball, or net ball, as well as dancing ballet. She graduated high school from Unity Catholic High School.
On April 19, 1950, Mary married Hagop Khatchikian in Khartoum, Sudan, beginning a wonderful life together. Their quality of life in Sudan was excellent, and being young successful people, they travelled often to Europe to enjoy its many pleasures, trips they loved dearly. Upon their return from their travels, they enjoyed their life in Khartoum being with all their family and many friends. That belonged to the Armenian country club, where that socialized often. Mary was a fantastic seamstress and would always make new dresses to wear, many derived from patterns from Paris. This talent for sewing would serve her well in her future.
Hagop and Mary were also blessed with three wonderful children over the years: their sons Hratch and Vasken, and their beautiful daughter, Maida. Unquestionably, life was very good for them there.
Then, in 1966 the family was faced with a great challenge, as the government was becoming embroiled in a violent coup d’état. The family feared for its safety and knew there not a future in Khartoum any longer. They made a difficult decision to leave their home. So, they packed their suitcases and told authorities they were simply going on vacation to Hamburg, Germany, to visit Mary’s brother Haig and his wife Gudron. They escaped their family, yet had to leave their home, all their belongings and the life they led, behind forever.
The family arrived in New York on October 13,1966, found a temporary home in New Jersey where they knew some friends. They soon departed to Washington, D.C. to stay with Mary’s relatives while their immigration got their legal affairs in order. When they finally received their work visas, Hagop, “Jake” took employment with Louis Kingscott Architectural, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Jake and Mary and the family moved to Portage, Michigan, and fell in love with the area and its people. They were so grateful for the way the community embraced them, especially the people who became like instant from the Sahara Desert family at the First Reformed Church in Portage. They helped them get on their feet and provided them anything they needed.
As you can imagine, living in America was quite a transition for the family, particularly their previous lifestyle. In Sudan, they lived quite lavishly with the finest dress, cooks, nannies and housekeepers. In contrast, in Michigan, they had none of these amenities. Mary had to learn to cook and clean, with no one to help her anymore! What a life change——From the Sahara Desert to the snow in Kalamazoo!
In 1971, the family faced another difficult time. Their middle child Vasken suddenly took ill with Guillsin barre syndrome and died that May … on Mother’s Day. He was a junior high student at the middle school at Portage Northern. His death naturally affected the family deeply. Yet with the strength and character of both Mary and Jake, the family persevered. With the help of the Armenian church in Detroit and the First Reformed Church in Portage, and its people, the family was able to heal.
In 1973, the family became proud citizens of the United States, which had truly become their home. Portage had also become their true home.
In her career, Mary was a talented seamstress, working for Sears, the Vogue Shop and Dekorne/ Ethan Allen home interiors where she made custom made drapes. In 1995, Mary received an award from Jack Dekorne for 20 years of outstanding service. Her skills and professionalism have helped hundreds of people in the Kalamazoo area to have homes they are proud of and comfortable in.
On October 11, 2006, Mary’s husband of 56 years, died at Bronson hospital after a brief illness. Of course, Mary was devastated … the love of her life had passed away. Mary continued to work with interior designers, which helped her work through her grief of Jake’s passing. Of course, Mary’s family and the First Reformed church were there, giving friendship, love and support.
In 2008., Mary made the decision, along with her son Hratch and her daughter, Maida that it was time to leave her beloved home, the First Reformed Church and friends of Portage. It was now time for her to live close to her children in Houston, Texas. In Texas, Mary joined the Armenian church, became an avid reader, enjoyed word search puzzles, shopping, and trying new restaurants all over Houston! She missed her church in Portage and her friends of forty -two years. Mary knew that she needed to be close to her children in Texas. Mary lived life to the fullest—-she adapted well to any situation that occurred and any geographical locations.
Mary was a remarkable woman, who lived an amazing life, a life full of challenges and triumphs. Mary was truly a beautiful person, inside and out. She was a wonderful wife, mother, friend to many. Mary had a wonderful sense of humor and truly a Christian woman.
Sadly, Mary died October 1, 2019, in Katy, a suburb of Houston, Texas, after a brief illness. Mary was preceded in death by her parents, her son Vasken, her brothers Haig and Koko, her sister Virginia, and her husband Jake. Members of Mary’s family include her son Hratch her daughter Maida Khatchikian-Dabbagh, and Omar Dabbagh, her grandchildren Heather Dabbagh and Kelly Dabbagh of Texas, her 2 sisters in law Vathoui Khatchikian of London England and Astika Kazanjian of Silver Springs Maryland, her nephews and nieces, including Ara Benguian of Ft. Meyers, Florida, Raffi and Diane Khatchikian of New Jersey, Hrair Kazanjian and family of silver Springs , Maryland, her nephew Vince kazanjian and family of London England . Also, included are numerous cousins in Mayland and the Khatchikians in Canada.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, September 10, 2021, at 1:30 at the First Reformed Church of Portage with interment following at the Potage Central Cemetery near the library. Visit Mary’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign her guestbook. In lieu of flowers make a donation to the First Reformed Church of Portage or the American Cancer society. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.