March 25, 1926 – January 9, 2021
Esther Zulalian Ekizian March 25, 1926- January 9, 2021
Born in Astoria, NY to Mardiros and Zumrout (Kupelian) Zulalian, both from Malatya, Armenia. Preceded in death by a brother who died at a young age. She is survived by her devoted brother Jack Zulalian, and her cherished children Carol Papazian (John), Diane Sahakian (Ara), Linda Ekizian (Bill), Robert Ekizian (Debbie) and her
grandchildren Alexis Zrike (Bill), Daniel, Andrew, Lily and Zachary. She was pre- deceased by her husband, Arshavir, who passed away in 1968.
Esther was a lover of life and a lifelong learner. She was raised in Astoria, NY, and lived in a three-bedroom apartment with her parents, her brother, her grandparents Kayaneh and Setrag Kupelian, and her uncle Sarkis Kupelian. Esther could only read and write Armenian until she learned English in kindergarten. She loved going to Armenian School and was involved in many cultural activities and made many dear friends. Esther attended Julia Richman High School and Hunter College. Esther was a “career gal.” Her first job was at Chase Manhattan Bank on Fifth Avenue where her favorite client was Babe Ruth who came in for meetings wearing a full-length mink coat and smoking a
cigar. There she met a friend who introduced her to the opera. Opera became a life- long passion. She was a member of the Long Island chapter of the Armenian General
Athletic Union (AGAU) where she met Arsh, who was a member of the Bronx chapter. They married in 1956 and moved to Irvington, NY, then Peekskill, NY, as Arsh set up a carpet business with his brothers. When Arsh died at the age of 45, Esther had four children under the age of 11. Esther received support from relatives, friends and neighbors; they enriched her life. She instilled in her children a love of the arts and New York City, taking them on excursions there and ordering lunch from the Automat or from Chock Full O’Nuts. She drove them to Armenian dances and youth group activities all over the tri-state area and enrolled them in summer religious conferences. On Saturdays, all chores were done in the house while listening to the Texaco-sponsored Metropolitan Opera house matinee performances over the stereo. The family would play along with the intermission opera quiz. Esther knew all the answers. In the early 1970s Esther and a group of local Armenians created an Armenian Apostolic church group because the closest Armenian church was far away. She and others pored through phone books circling names that ended in “ian” and called each family to ask if they would be interested in joining a group. The Armenian Church of Northern Westchester was established, but had no church building in which to meet. Undeterred, parishioners met on Sundays in bank community rooms and movie theaters and held Armenian mass once a month in a local church during off-hours. Every Sunday an Armenian deacon would deliver a service which was followed by Sunday School for the children. This brought her much joy and many fond memories, and instilled faith in her children to this day. This group eventually merged with the newly formed St. Gregory The Enlightener Armenian Church in Hartsdale and then to White Plains NY, and she drove there from Peekskill faithfully on Sundays. She loved the church service
so much she listened to a cassette-tape recorded mass while driving and would remain in a parked car until a hymn was over. Esther enjoyed playing golf and the social fun surrounding the game. She joined the Highlands Country Club in Garrison, NY, in the late 1960s and took golf lessons and eventually became part of the women’s league and their social group. She spent time with her dear Ed Deren in Bermuda where they had fun times at The Reefs and played golf at different resorts. He was her steadfast companion for ten years until his death in 1997. For her 80th birthday she took the family to Disney World, played golf with the family, and enjoyed personalized birthday activities. Esther continued to play golf until she was 85 as a snowbird in Naples, Florida, where she spent many seasons living with her brother Jack and had a vibrant life. While in Peekskill, Esther held various jobs in the local school district, including executive secretary at the Lakeland Board of Education. She moved on to Nestlé Foods in White Plains, NY, and eventually worked in the Office of the President thanks to a connection she met on a Nestlé golf outing. She loved this job, brought home lots of Nestlé chocolate and test-kitchen recipes, and even traveled to headquarters in Switzerland. She ensured that each one of her children received a college education
and travelled to Massachusetts and Pennsylvania many times for move-in and move- outs, often in one-day roundtrips.
In 2008 she moved to Maryland to be closer to family. Esther never looked back and embraced life there. She read the New York Times every day and walked across the street to the library and checked out books on tape, DVDs and anything interesting she could find. She liked to exercise. As a member of the Senior Center in Rockville, MD, she learned Tai Chi and took senior aerobics. When she wintered in Florida she would go to aerobic classes and practice Tai Chi in the living room watching a homemade instructional videotape. Until her late 80’s she was still taking the train solo to NY to see her beloved operas at the Metropolitan Opera and, despite objections from her daughters, stayed at the local YWCA. She was delighted when the Met began to present HD performances at the local movie theaters and would make sure she got tickets as soon as they became available. She dictated letters for her daughters to send to the Met with her suggestions, donations and comments. Esther loved the beach and enjoyed the family home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware where she rarely missed a twilight concert at the bandstand, would do the NY Times
crossword puzzle and listen to books on tape on the beach. She loved Royal Treat hot- fudge sundaes and eating Candy Kitchen treats.
Esther was an avid picture taker and giver of cards and gifts and never showed up empty handed. She remembered all birthdays and anniversaries. A classic Esther card would be a store-bought card on which she would glue on faces from family photos and would add words to improve the message.
Esther and her brother had a special relationship; thanks to him she was always supported. Nothing made her happier than spending time with her grandchildren who introduced her to different activities throughout their young lives. She was their biggest cheerleader. Over the last five years Esther was loved by many caregivers, but none as special as “Amazing” Grace Berko, who helped care for her the last two years. Esther will be greatly missed but she led a long and full life, for which we are grateful. She made a difference in a lot of people’s lives. She lived to be almost 95 years old, but we have been saying goodbye to her little by little for the past five years as dementia slowly took her away. Remember her great, infectious smile. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, services will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Esther’s name can be made to St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, 486 Bedford Road, Armonk NY 10504; use www.stnersess.edu for online donations, or to St. Mary Armenian Church, 200 West Mt. Pleasant Avenue, Livingston, NJ 07039. Checks should be made out to St. Mary Endowment Fund noting Esther’s name in the comments; or online www.stmarynj.net/donate and under “please direct my support:” select “donate in lieu of” and enter Esther Ekizian, and it will be directed to the Endowment Fund.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
January 18, 2021
To Jack and family, my condolences on your loss. Esther obviously lived a very rich and full life, you and her family were clearly a very significant part of that. Hear very good things about Naples, FL, best wishes to you there. My wife and I considering Venice. Pete