Natalie (Gazoorian) Barmakian of Belmont and Oak Bluffs passed away on Oct. 16, 2023, a few weeks shy of her 95th birthday.
Natalie Regina Gazoorian was born on Nov. 12, 1928, in Worcester to Maritza and Sarkis Gazoorian, who had fled the Armenian genocide from his home in Malatia, Turkey. She grew up in Worcester and went to North High School, graduating in the class of 1946, and then went to the Salter School, a secretarial institution, where she acquired a certificate. She worked for the American Red Cross and Worcester Art Museum.
Natiale was proud of her Armenian heritage, but was also very patriotic, and appreciative of the opportunity this country provided for her father. She always ended stories about the plight of her father with the phrase “God bless America” when describing how he came to the U.S.
Natalie was introduced to her future husband, Ara Barmakian, by Ara’s mother at an Armenian event. After that, Ara’s choice was made, and they married in September 1952. Natalie loved to stay active, taking care of children and grandchildren, cooking, playing tennis, entertaining friends and family, attending her grandchildrens’ activities, and if there was ever music playing, she was dancing to everyone’s delight.
It was her husband who introduced her to Martha’s Vineyard; his parents had had a home on Waban Park on Oak Bluffs since the early 1940s, and his uncle, Krikor (“Jerry”) Barmakian, built and ran the Boston House and several other Oak Bluffs businesses. One of Natalie’s first experiences of Island life was being on-Island with her 2-year-old daughter during the Hurricane of 1954, otherwise known as Hurricane Carol, in late August.
Nevertheless, she continued to spend almost every summer in Oak Bluffs with her growing family, who all shared the Island pleasures of the time: endless days at the neighborhood beach, rides on the Flying Horses, sailing in the family catamaran, chocolates at Hilliards, crabbing at Farm Pond, picking mussels off the beach, and grape-leaf picking up-Island.
Natalie also made her mark on the Island later in life — between the ages of 88 and 90 — at the M.V. Agricultural Society Fair, as the three-time winner of the annual Skillet Toss’s Silver Skillet Award, given to the oldest contestant to make a legal throw. She always accepted the award happily and graciously, dancing a jig as she left the field.
Natalie was the wife of the late Ara Barmakian. She leaves behind her children, Karen Herosian and her husband Glen Herosian, Gail Barmakian, Janice McCullough and her husband David McCullough Jr., and Ara Barmakian Jr. and his wife Beth Barmakian; her 11 grandchildren; and her sister, Marcia Gazoorian of Worcester. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her parents, Sarkis and Maritza Gazoorian; her sister, Rosalie Chorbajian; and her brother, Sarkis Leon (“Lee”) Gazoorian.
Services were held at the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church in Watertown on Oct. 23, 2023. Memorial gifts may be made to the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church, online at stjameswatertown.org/support-us; or to the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NASSR), 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA 02478.