Seta Mesrobian (1928-2016)
A Woman of Style and Taste
I fondly recall Seta Mesrobian’s rapid-fire verbal delivery; her thought process worked so fast that unless listeners had complete focus on her it was difficult to keep up with her message. That was our Seta. Her outgoing personality brought so much to everyone’s everyday life.
Those who knew her, loved her. We’d all laugh together while working on projects as parishioners of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church in Dearborn.
Her passing has hit many of us like a bolt of lightning. It is sobering to think that this lady of style and good taste, the expert seamstress’s voice, has been silenced.
In recent years, death has been unkind to Detroit area Armenians, taking away in its grip special friends, familiar faces, and the cream of the crop like Seta to that promised “Better Place.” The consolation for those left behind is to believe that the “Better Place” does exist as promised by the Resurrection of our Lord and that we will be together again. Those of us remaining behind, Seta’s family and the community, must take it upon ourselves to pick up the pieces no matter how difficult and continue on to maintain the Motor City’s reputation as a vibrant Armenian community.
It was the late 1970’s and the aging members of the genocide survivor generation in St. Sarkis’s Ladies’ Guild needed to bolster their membership. They succeeded in adding to their group a core group of new members that included Seta Mesrobian, Anne Krikorian, Nazely Keyorian (deceased), Florence Sharigian, and myself, also known as the “Maas Ladies.”
The friends Seta left behind fondly recall the 11 a.m. Sunday mornings when the “Maas Ladies,” dressed in their heels and Sunday best, gathered to package maas for distribution to church goers at the conclusion of our beautiful Badarak.
It was not unusual for Rev. Dr. Gorun Shrikian of Blessed Memory to pay us a visit in that little back room near the altar to admonish us to lower our voices. We would sober up, giggle, and continue doing the Lord’s work at more moderate tones. Seta was there among us and contributed her share as to recent goings-on in the community. We very much looked forward to the camaraderie these Sunday mornings provided to our friendship.
It was the same group of women that then attended church services, to be followed by the coffee hour. We began the project of bringing homemade sweets to the coffee hour, where we helped serve coffee while parishioners enjoyed delicious homemade pastries. Those were halcyon days for us. Who thought then how things would change many years later.
One of our community’s finest moments was the magnificent reception under the leadership of the Ladies’ Guild in honor of Archbishop Karekin Sarkissian of Blessed Memory and his entourage from the Prelacy to St. Sarkis Church. The reception and food preparation fell to the Ladies’ Guild. Seta was there pulling me in to help her in the effort of fine tuning the archbishop’s head table, fashioning a table skirt suitably appropriate along with fine china and floral centerpieces. She gave the table her magic touch. The buffet table groaned with delicious Armenian cuisine of every description. It was a magnificent evening to remember and Archbishop Sarkissian was generous in his praise of our Ladies’ Guild and the community.
Seta was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and came to Detroit in 1956. She married Verdi Mesrobian on Feb. 11, 1957. She is survived by her daughters, Margaret and Anahit, and daughter-in-law Lynn. Her grandchildren are Alexander, Daniel, and Alexandra. Seta was pre-deceased by her husband and her son, Antranik (“Andy”).
Don Gark prayers for Seta were performed and funeral services were conducted the next day by Fr. Hrant Kevorkian. Hokejash followed services in the church’s Lillian Arakelian Hall. Interment was at Woodmere Cemetery. Memorial tributes to St. Sarkis Church.
When Seta’s son passed away a few years ago, suddenly at age 51, as a mother Seta naturally took it very hard. It seems after that unfortunate early demise of her beloved Andy that her health began to fail. Her conversations unfailingly always included Andy.
I recall the 50th wedding anniversary celebration given by her daughter Anahit of Sun City, Calif. It was a real Armenian dinner dance party. Anahit even had her mother’s favorite musician, former Detroiter Khachig Kazarian, come in from Las Vegas to provide the entertainment. Seta and her family and guests filled the dance floor, dancing to traditional Armenian village music. The church hall was filled and the milestone event was a grand celebration for Verdi and Seta.
Anahit has crisscrossed the country many times yearly to be with her mother in Dearborn, through good times and when her health began to fail. Seta always had the best of care, attention, and love. Every parent should be so fortunate.
Seta was known for being an expert dressmaker and seamstress. She counted among her clientele the wealthy from Gross Pointe and other area upscale suburban cities.
It fell to the Ladies’ Guild to find suitable fabric to provide new liturgical vestments for Rev. Dr. Shrikian. I obtained material samples from New York City. When fabric selection was made, Seta did the honors of expertly sewing the new garments. To her also fell the honor of decorating Christ’s Tomb for Good Friday services.
Another fun time was when Seta was driving Virginia Avedesian, Anne Krikorian, and myself to the Ladies’ Guild portion (as representatives) of the National Representative Assembly in Toronto. The trip involved crossing the Detroit River via the Ambassador Bridge to neighboring Windsor, Ontario, and boarding the train to the convention headquarters. We were crossing the bridge, and I was sitting in the back seat and finally took the opportunity to ask someone who spoke fluent Turkish the meaning of the “colorful” language my father used. I began ripping off a stream of what I knew were Turkish swear words (he never sullied the Armenian language), though their meaning was unknown to me. Here we were on a heavily trafficked bridge and I thought Seta was going to go over the side into the river at her nervous amazement, while the other passengers roared with laughter at what I had said. Seta gripped the steering wheel: “Aman, aman, aghchik, eench guhses. Adonk shad ahmot parer en” (What are you saying? Those are such shameful words). We all just laughed.
Seta was one of a kind. She had a wonderful sense of humor and a keenly informed mind. She surrounded us with happiness and now we mourn her loss.
Seta, you stood out in the crowd, a special lady, now going on to join Verdi and Andy. You will be missed. You will always be remembered as one of the “Maas Ladies,” always dressed so stylishly.
Tsedesoutyun, Seta, until we meet again.
Our sincere sympathy to her family and the community. As usual, we didn’t know what we had until we lost it.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West