Dziadzan (Gia) Aivazian was born in Kavala, Northern Greece on Dec. 22 1934. She passed away on Thursday, February 10, 2022 in Los Angeles.
She was the daughter of Levon and Zabel Aivazian, Armenian Genocide survivors from Yozgat and Bandirma, respectively. Levon and Zabel were blessed with four children, Gia, Adam, Krikor and Arshalouis. Their father’s profession as a teacher in Armenian schools took the family to many countries. Gia had a peripatetic upbringing that saw her living in Greece, Cyprus, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. The Aivazian family moved to the United States in 1960.
Gia’s childhood in Nazi-occupied Greece in the early 1940’s, the 1947 Palestinian-Israeli war (after their move to Jaffa), and their escape to Amman, Jordan, among other harrowing experiences shaped her personality and character. Gia’s outlook on life was greatly influenced by having witnessed the human tragedy caused by wars and the resulting suffering and injustice.
From a very young age Gia was a problem solver, resilient and steadfast. Her early life experiences sealed her sense of familial and societal responsibilities. Throughout her life, she remained attuned to hardships around her and the community at large.
Gia had a boundless thirst for learning and knowledge. From a tender age, she was an avid reader. Books were her best friend.
In the Greek town where her family had taken refuge from the Nazis, with the absence of schools, Gia taught herself the Greek alphabet in order to read.
After moving to Jordan, Gia enrolled in the British High School for Girls. She had no prior knowledge of English. Through perseverance and hard work, she became the star student of the British school with a perfect command of the Shakespearean language. Once the Aivazian family immigrated to the United States, Gia, now an alumnus of the American University of Beirut, pursued her academic studies at UCLA. She earned a B.A. In English in 1967, a Master’s of Library science in 1968 and candidate in Philosophy in near Eastern languages and cultures emphasis on Armenian literature, in 1982.
In 1968 Gia Aivazian was appointed cataloguer of Armenian and Greek books at UCLA.
Librarianship was not only a livelihood for Gia, but rather, a calling.
Her profession was driven by a higher purpose; To transform the Armenian Studies field and raise awareness of Armenian Identity and culture.
Over a long, forty plus year career, from 1968 to 2009, Gia contributed to the modernization of the cataloging of Armenian materials. In conjunction with the Library of Congress, she greatly improved areas of classification, subject headings and the Armenian alphabet Romanization table.
In addition to cataloging, Gia became the bibliographer for all Armenian materials from 1973 to 1990. She single-handedly developed the UCLA library’s entire Armenian Collection. Through her continuous and sustained efforts, the Armenian collection grew from a base of approximately two thousand books to some twenty-three thousand, giving UCLA the largest Armenian collection of books in the Western Hemisphere.
A pragmatic idealist, Gia played a pivotal role in the advancement of the UCLA Naregatsi Chair for Armenian Studies.
Gia Aivazian followed in her parent’s footsteps, by continuously being immersed in the Armenian Community. Gia served on multiple committees, boards and councils. She was a Board member of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Armenian Symphonic Music Association, Friends of UCLA Armenian Language and Culture Program, Tekeyan Cultural Association, Arshag Dikranian School and the UCLA Narekatsi Chair for Armenian Studies Ad hoc Committee, Just to name a few.
In addition, Gia participated in multiple conferences focused on Armenian Culture and history. As a sought-after speaker, she lectured on topics such as- «The Armenian Folktale», «Armenian Manuscripts and Illuminations», «Problems in Armenian Collection development in U.S. Libraries» and «The W.L. Sachtleben Papers at UCLA concerning the Erzurum Massacre of October 30, 1895.
Gia’s proudest accomplishment was receiving the prestigious Hagop Meghabard Medal for Achievement in Librarianship and Bibliography from the National Library of Armenia.
As you can see, she had a profound influence on the Armenian Community and Academia.
Dziadzan Aivazian left an indelible mark on her family and friends. She was kind, generous and loving.
Her Loss is mourned by.
Her brother Adam & Ani Aivazian
Her nephews Sevag & Taline Aivazian, and Krikor & Taylor Aivazian
Her sister Arshalouis Stevenson,
Her nephew and niece, Damian Stevenson and Anoush Stevenson.
Her grand nieces and nephews, Sevana and Atam Aivazian, Nathan, Christopher & Haylen Aivazian and Poppy Stevenson.
Along with the Aivazian, Stevenson, Apamian, Kouyumdjian, Chuchian, Minasian and Missirli families.
Funeral services to be held on March 30, 2022 at 2:30pm. Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Old North Church.