RICHARD KLOIAN (1937-2010)

Armenian Weekly Staff
Wed, May 12 2010

Established Armenian Genocide Resource Center

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.-Richard Kloian, who established and directed
the Armenian Genocide Resource Center, was laid to rest on May 5 in
the presence of family and friends at Rolling Hills Memorial Park in
El Sobrante.

Kloian, 73, passed away on May 1 after a massive stroke. Funeral
services were conducted by Reverend Father Hovel Ohanyan of Oakland's
St. Vartan Church. Roxanne Makasdjian, the chairperson of the Bay
Area Armenian National Committee (ANC), spoke about Kloian's major
contribution to the work of organizations pursuing recognition of
the Armenian Genocide, to the field of genocide studies, and to the
general public's understanding of the Armenian Genocide.

Richard Kloian Raffi Momjian, the director of the Genocide Education
Project, for which Kloian acted as advisor, read a few of the
many comments sent by scholars expressing their remembrances about
Richard. Israel Charny, the executive director of the Institute on
the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, wrote, "I consider him a
GIANT on behalf of Armenian Genocide recognition and memory. His
devotion to his work in enabling education and memory about the
Armenian Genocide was immense."

Dennis Papazian, professor emeritus (retired) and founding director of
the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn,
wrote, "He was a man dedicated to the truth and willing to gather
the evidence for all to see. He was a true gentleman, and hated no one.

His only desire was to educate and enlighten. He believed that
enlightened people would do the right thing. He had a positive
outlook. He is irreplaceable. May he rest in peace and may his family
be comforted."

Below is a transcript of the funeral service remarks by Roxanne
Makasdjian.

***

It's hard for me to accept that I'm standing here this morning, to
say goodbye to Richard. Richard was someone who you never wanted to
believe would not be here one day. He was so much younger than his
years, and he had such endless energy. Although on many occasions I
wondered how his work would be carried on after him, I didn't really
think this time would come.

I met Richard almost immediately after I began volunteering for the
Armenian National Committee when I moved here in the 1980's. He had
just published his book, The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts from
the American Press, 1915-1922. This was truly a landmark publication
because the collection of these New York Times and other articles was
not only a useful reference book for researchers, but for groups like
the ANC, it was then and still is the perfect public information tool
to make the case for recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Richard
had done it all by himself, spending endless hours at UC Berkeley,
going through pages and pages of newspaper microfilm.

When we initiated a committee to help teachers include the Armenian
Genocide in their coursework, all roads led to Richard Kloian, who
had been a key resource for teachers for years. Getting to know him,
I soon realized that he had an unstoppable passion and talent for
bringing documentation about the Armenian Genocide to the broad
public. I began getting a stream of emails from him, with the most
interesting articles, reports, first-hand accounts. Sometimes, it
came so fast and furiously, I had to stick them in a folder I called
"stuff from Richard" until I could make time to film them all properly.

Richard once told me how this passion of his first bloomed. It was
when his father died in 1976. Richard discovered his father's diary,
which told a harrowing tale of genocide survival. It was then that
Richard's life work turned irreversibly to the Armenian Genocide.

His new interest filled his evenings after work. Soon, his mission
became a full-time volunteer effort, bringing to light this "forgotten
history."

By 1997, he had established the Armenian Genocide Resource Center
(AGRC). Through the AGRC, Richard has single-handedly collected a vast
amount of documentation on the Armenian Genocide, helped get long-lost
memoirs and documents published, and has developed many useful
materials for helping locate and acquire historical and current works.

He also found films about the Armenian Genocide from around the world
and got permission to reproduce them for the general public. As many
of you know, one of his most recent labors of love was restoring and
editing the only surviving segment of the 1919 silent Hollywood film,
"Ravished Armenia."

Richard's perseverance and drive were incomparable. His work was an
everyday act of courage because each day, by himself, and without any
compensation, he fought the powerful forces of "forgetting." Not only
did his work fight historical revisionism, it served to enlighten
educators and politicians alike who encounter Turkey's denial of
the Armenian Genocide regularly. His work has helped broaden the
discussion of genocide studies because so many non-Armenians sought
out his materials and his vast knowledge of historical resources.

But to characterize Richard only in terms of his contributions to
Armenian Genocide education would not give the true picture. Born
and raised in Detroit, Mich., one of five brothers, Richard, whose
Armenian name was Diran, was an extraordinary Renaissance man. He had
an avid interest in science, in music, in photography. He was an active
member of the Astronomical Society in Detroit, where he organized
public events and where he built his first deep space telescope with
Dr. Donaldson Craig of Wayne State University. He studied French and
comparative literature, and as an accomplished photographer, he was
among the first in Detroit to capture on film the early phases of
growth that revolutionized the Detroit skyline. And as a professional
musician, he played in Detroit's Latin and jazz orchestras. I'm told
it was while playing music that he met his wife of 42 years, Antonia,
and we all owe such a debt of gratitude that Antonia gave Richard
the space to pursue his passion and give so much to the world.

The list of his accomplishments is so impressive, yet what I keep
thinking about is Richard's sweet and gentle demeanor, his genuine
kindness, and his pleasing smile. Thank you, Richard, for brightening
and enriching our lives, for teaching us, for showing us the way.

***

The Genocide Education Project is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3)
organization that assists educators in teaching about human rights
and genocide, particularly the Armenian Genocide, by developing and
distributing instructional materials, providing access to teaching
resources and organizing educational workshops. For more information,
visit www.genocideeducation.org.