MAN'S 100-YEAR LIFE FILLED WITH BOTH TRAGEDY AND JOY
By Brenda Gazzar, Staff Writer

Pasadena Star News
http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_15050138
M ay 10 2010
CA

Grandaughter Sonya Manjikian shares stories as the family of Joseph
Manjikian celebrate his 100th birthday Sunday, May 9, 2010 at his
son's Pasadena home. Manjikian, a Armenian genocide survivor who
lives in West Hills, turned 100 on May 9th. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Eric
Reed)PASADENA - Joseph Manjikian enjoys tending to the family's lush
gardens and grafting their fruit trees with the aid of a ladder.

Several times a week, he walks half a mile to get to the bus stop -
and then back - to do his own grocery shopping at his West Hills home.

He was even a senior Olympian who occasionally works out with weights.

On Sunday the Armenian genocide survivor celebrated his 100th birthday
surrounded by family and friends at his son's Pasadena home.

"It's no good to be old," Manjikian said last week from his son's
garden, where he planted the more than 100 fruit trees. "It's hard
to move. It's hard to bend."

But that doesn't stop his granddaughter, Ani Kenderian, from dragging
her grandfather to her children's school functions, or Manjikian from
taking trips with the family.

"I want to make sure my kids remember him, so I involve him in my
kids' life," Kenderian, 36, of Pasadena said. "I drag him to every
school function. I don't want my parents or my grandparents to miss
out on that, and he accepts that."

Last month, Manjikian shared his remarkable life story with students
at an Armenian Christian school in Alta Dena.

He was born in 1910 in the Armenian village of Kessab, which was
then part of the Ottoman Empire. His father, an Armenian officer in
the Turkish Army, was killed - believed to be buried alive - in the
Armenian genocide of 1915.

He and the rest of his family were driven from their village that year
by Turkish soldiers. Although he was only 5 years old, he remembers
the sickness, hunger and endless walking they had to endure.

"Imagine hundreds of people walking hundreds of miles," he said.

Making a stop to drink water meant risking being shot by a Turkish
soldier, he said. To survive, his mother would pick edible grasses
for him and his siblings to eat along the way.

When he and his family returned to Kessab years later, they found that
much of their beloved village had been destroyed. As they were walking
through, his mother found a package of bread crumbs that they devoured.

"It was so delicious," he said, through his granddaughter Ani, who
was translating.

Manjikian, who speaks eight languages, including Hebrew and Arabic,
also lived for more than two decades in Palestine, where he worked
as a mechanic for the British Army.

He met his wife Sara after he asked his sisters' help in finding him
a bride from their village. They sent him a photo of her. Although
he thought she was skinny, he agreed to marry her. They met - and
were married within a day or two.

Manjikian becomes animated when speaking of his wife and her
"famous" cooking. Sara, who died nine years ago, was known for baking
traditional breads and foods from her village.

In 1950, Manjikian brought his wife and children to the United States.

They eventually settled in Inglewood, where he opened a mechanic shop
and the couple had another child.

A few decades later, Manjikian and Sara moved to West Hills, where
Manjikian has spent the past 35 years living partly there and partly
with his family members in Pasadena.

When asked his secret to living a long and healthy life, Manjikian
just shrugged.

"Forget it," he said.