Richard Terzian, 1924–2015

2013.11.28 Richard Terzian at Thanksgiving

Peter’s father, Richard Terzian, died at home in Latham, New York, on Sunday, 18 January 2015, at age ninety. Born in Watervliet, New York, on 13 July 1924, he was a member of the Armenian American community and was given the baptismal name of Dicran. He grew up in Troy, where he remembered playing kick the can, kick the stick, baseball, and basketball in the streets. In 1942, during World War II, he left high school, where he had been studying electrical wiring, to work at the Watervliet Arsenal, and in March 1943 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. After training at Camp Upton, New York, and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, he served in England, France, and Germany, assembling jeeps and driving trucks, until November 1945.

After finishing high school, in 1946, he attended the State University of New York’s College for Teachers at Albany, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1954 and a master’s of science in 1958. There he met Barbara Ann Mendoza, Peter’s mother, whom he married in 1959. Until 1981 he taught high school math and driver’s education in a number of Capital District school systems. He was an aficionado of the arts, especially the Impressionists, and loved golf and heated political discussions. He was a warm, sweet, generous man, and a great kidder.

There will be a wake at the Dufresne and Cavanaugh Funeral Home, 149 Old Loudon Road, Latham, NY 12110, on Thursday, January 22, from 5pm to 7pm, and a funeral mass at St. Peter’s Armenian Apostolic Church, 100 Troy Schenectady Road, Watervliet, NY 12189, on Friday, January 23, at 10:30am. If you’d like to make a donation in his name, please consider Community Hospice and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.

1943 Richard Terzian in uniform with friends at mother's house. Front row: Ed Kazanjian, John Avakian, Richard Terzian. Back row: unknown, Ralph Vartigan, Charlie Partamian, John Jevanian

1945 Tom-Segreto, Noreen-Bayliss, Richard Terzian playing cards in England

1967 Barbara and Richard Terzian with Don Manuel Osorio

1968.08 Richard Terzian holding Peter

2006 Richard, Peter, and Barbara Terzian in Latham

2004.08.15 Richard Terzian holding Nina on the back porch

A hand-painted rose, as a bookplate

A bookplate of a rose, hand-painted by Helen Costello Chase, 1953

This hand-drawn and hand-painted bookplate is in a copy of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse that I bought last year. Note the preliminary pencilling, still visible beneath the ink, of both the signature and the flower. Extrapolating from an obituary that I found online, it seems that in 1953, when Helen Costello Chase was nineteen, she was dancing with the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet in London. Later she became a florist and a painter. “Her mode of transportation was not automobile but ballet slipper,” her eulogist declares.

The real thing

After editing the late John Leonard for sixty-nine months, during which despite regular chemotherapy he never missed a deadline, Jennifer Szalai of Harper’s magazine looks back to their first month working together (subscription required):

I had the young editor’s tendency to err on the far side of caution. My queries to John weren’t many, but their phrasing was that of someone who had never met a hair she wouldn’t split yet was shy about wielding the knife. I recently opened up the Microsoft Word document on which we did most of our edits for that [first] column, last saved at 8:22 P.M. on February 11, 2003, and I saw a bold-faced query of mine after John’s reference to “a techno-rave, ZyloFlex body armor, and some stun-gun sex.” I had bolded “stun-gun sex” and added, “John: Just to clarify: Is ‘stun-gun’ meant metaphorically here?”

No, it most emphatically wasn’t.