He was a trooper as one would expect, having served as a colonel in the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune during the Korean War. Richard was always at salute, whether it was our nation’s colors or his own family.
Sick as he was, it didn’t prevent him from caring for his ill wife over the months leading up to her death. Nobody in our family expected that role reversal. Dorothy Vartabedian had been a motivational speaker, writer and missionary of sorts who traveled near and far to spread the word of peace and conviction. They were two acorns on the same sturdy tree of life.
The next time Richard and I met was at his own funeral on Aug. 8. He had spent the ensuing months in treatment and finally hospice care. He died at 83, but not without a gracious bow to humanity.
You won’t find a litany of organizations beside his name. Richard was not an organizational fanatic, but he was organized in home and family affairs. Had you attended his wake, you would have seen the photographs on display at Bedrosian’s Funeral Home.
One showed him with my dad and his other siblings. When we got together with our families for a holiday or celebration, the place was jumping with festivity. Drinks in hand, tables sagging with food, laughter and ethnicity galore. The Armenian connection was rock solid.
With three sons, my cousin enjoyed unadulterated pride. All three boys became Eagle Scouts and inspired my own two boys to follow their trail. Richard’s sons took these routes: Brian went on to become a nationally-renowned pediatrician and author on the subject; Alan enjoyed prominent success as an architect; and Mark carved out a noted reputation as a personal trainer, fitness guru and therapist.
You might say those three sons would have made any dad proud, not to mention the four grandchildren. Richard’s extreme loyalty to his family was very prudently outlined by Rev. Archpriest Aram Stepanian in his eulogy.