AMAA Wishes Rev. Dr. John Markarian a Very Happy 100th Birthday!
It isn’t every day somebody turns a century old. We praise God that Rev. Dr. John Markarian is one of them. He has touched so many lives and has been a blessing to many. The AMAA looks forward to celebrating this special milestone on July 22nd in NJ.
The Rev. Dr. John Markarian was born in Windham, a town in Greene County New York affectionately named “Gem of the Catskills” on June 7, 1917, two months after the US entered into World War I. Dr. Markarian’s father, The Rev. Hagop Markarian, was born in Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul. He attended the missionary-run St. Paul’s Apostolic Institute and was one of eight Armenian men in the inaugural graduating class of 1893. In 1898, he left Turkey and entered the United States, where he enrolled in Lafayette College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and was awarded the Astronomy Prize and Math Prize at the time of his graduation in 1901. He went on to Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating in 1904 and was ordained into the Presbyterian ministry.
John’s mother, Dora Benedict Euth, traced her American ancestry thru the Benedict Family whose first arrival in the United States was Thomas Benedict in 1638. She was the great-great-great-granddaughter of The Rev. James Benedict, founding Pastor in 1776, of the Pittston Baptist Church in Luzerne County, PA. The Markarian family eventually moved to Scranton, PA where Hagop was the French Professor at Scranton Central High School and stated supply pastor of two Presbyterian Churches, Old Forge and Duryea.
John graduated from Scranton Central HS in the class of 1935. For three years, he was employed as a clerk in S.H. Bezdjian Oriental Rugs in Wilkes-Barre, PA. During that period of time, he attended the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Finance evening classes earning The Diploma after three years of study. In 1938, he was employed as a clerk in the Plant Record and Cost Department of the Scranton Electric Company until 1941 and enrolled in Lafayette College as a pre-theological student. He graduated in 1943 with a BA Degree in Philosophy. During his enrollment in Lafayette, he worked the nightshift in the Payroll Department at Ingersoll Rand Corporation where he met Ruth Miller. They married in 1943, after his graduation, and moved to New Jersey where John enrolled in Princeton Theological Seminary and Ruth joined the Gallup Corporation in Princeton. In 1945, John graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and was awarded a Bachelor of Divinity Degree. Following in his father’s footsteps, John became an ordained Presbyterian minister in the Lackawanna Presbytery.
In 1946, Dr. Markarian joined the Religion Department at Lafayette College. It was during this time, one of his students, Harry Balukjian, introduced him to the Armenian Community in Philadelphia. In 1955 he took a two year leave of absence from his position at Lafayette to accept an invitation from the Armenian Evangelical Church to organize a church-related college in Beirut, Lebanon, to be named Haigazian. The family of three, his wife Ruth and their 5-year old daughter Joanne, set sail from New York to Beirut on an Egyptian mail line, the SS Mohammed Ali el-Kebir. The completion of Markarian’s dissertation for his Ph.D. in Theology, postponed because of the move to Beirut, was awarded by Drew University Graduate School in Madison, New Jersey in 1963, during a sabbatical for that purpose. This challenging job, the founding and forming of a University college, lasted 11 years until 1966. The family moved to Pella, Iowa, where Dr. Markarian became head of the Religion Department and Dean of the Chapel at Central College, a liberal arts college affiliated with the Reformed Church of America. During this three-year period, Ruth lost her life in a tragic automobile accident. Dr. Markarian eventually returned to Beirut and became Professor of Theology and Director of Development of the Near East School of Theology until 1971, when he returned to the Presidency of Haigazian University College.
In 1973, Dr. Markarian met Inge Wilke, a member of the staff of the German Embassy in Beirut. The two were married in December, 1974, at the Old First Church in Huntington, New York. They spent the years up to 1982 on the door-step of the war in Lebanon. Dr. Markarian retired in 1982 and the two moved to Los Angeles, living there from 1982 – 1986, when they moved to West Pittston where they presently reside. His daughter Joanne lives in Los Angeles, and his grandson, born in 1983 in Los Angeles, now resides in Sydney, Australia.