December 17, 1922
March 4, 2010
I am saddened that he passed away this morning but grateful that he did not suffer and that he was only sick for a very short time. He lived life to the fullest even when life looked bleak for him.
He was born in Beruit and grew up with 3 siblings. He was full of spirit and spunk. He loved a good shot of vodka and always toasted everyone at the table. The toasts were not just at the beginning of a meal….they lasted the whole meal. He was very good looking and a bit of a flirt.
He spoke 5 languages and was still taking English class up until his visit to the hospital 23 days ago. He always had more to learn.
He was a fighter pilot for the French and he saw so many things during his tour of duty. He would tell tales about the Congo, the pretty ladies that doctored his feet (they were burned by the hot sand in the dessert) and of course the plane crash. They crashed hard and all survived.
His life took a turn for the worse under Stalin. Hrant was held as a prisoner of war for 7 years in Siberia. He held true and held strong to survive. He had limited knowledge of sewing when he was captured and he turned that limited knowledge into life. He began sewing dresses for the officers wives. He would “knock-off” their dresses and make new patterns. The women began sneaking him breads and meats in between the layers of the fabrics. Of course he shared his food treasures to help others survive too. After 7 years of survival – a man walked into the room and said “Hrant Filian – we made a mistake and you are free to go!”
Soon after, he fell in love with Shelley – a Russian beauty. Quite scandalous at the time. They married in Georgia. In 1964 they welcomed their first son, Ruben into the world.
Hrant and his young family had their sights on America and in 1969 they came to California with $300. Each member of the family was allowed to take $100 and 1 gold piece of jewelry. After their arrival in California, Shelley learned that she was pregnant. (with my hubby – Eddie)
Hrant purchased a sewing machine and began hemming pants for local dry cleaners. He kept hemming and hemming and hemming until he had enough money saved to open his own tailor shop. He was a smashing success – designing and creating mens suits. He opened 3 clothing stores in San Francisco. He made suits for all the local sports teams, stayed current with fashion trends and employed many many people.
When he retired, Shelley and Hrant moved to Los Angeles. He was very active in the senior citizen center, a frequenter of the Americana, a beach goer and an awesome pop!
I will miss him dearly.