Armenian Jerusalem
The way to the Armenian compound
  Katch Julian Adrian was born on April 28, 1933 in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, when I was eight. His given name was â ˜Khatchadour”, which in Armenian means ’cross-given” or ’cross-giver,” but was and is popularly called “Khatcho”: by relatives and Armenian friends. Our parents were Apraham Kevorkian and Elizabeth Sahakian, and our grandparents were Khatchadour Nersessian and Kevork Sahakian respectively. The first time I saw Katch, as a cute little baby, lying in a cot in an alcove, in the living room-bedroom of our parents’ house. He was my second brother since my first brother, who was given the same name as Katch, died of meningitis at the age of 5. I was then 8. Much later, during the Six Day 1948, that room was largely destroyed by a bomb. When I went back to Jerusalem in the summer of 1965 I found some of his school books together with family photographs, scattered on the ruined room’s floor. William Wordsworth’s famous line, ’The child is father to the man,” well describes the personality he developed as he was growing up as a tall, handsome youth; including his easy sociability and friendliness; his love of an active life, including sports. Later in life he developed a wry, teasing sense of humor and an amazing rapport even with total strangers. Katch had his first schooling at the St.Tarkmanchats (’The Translators”) parochial elementary school founded by the Jerusalem Armenian Patriarchate in 1929. During the six years of elementary school he studied English and Arabic in addition to classical and modern Armenian, along with the usual elementary classes in science, math and history. As far as I recall, he did quite well in all his classes. After graduation from elementary school Katch continued his studies at the Jerusalem Terra Sancta College. But before he was able to complete his secondary education, his studies were cut short by the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which first forced our parents and him to take refuge, with the rest of the Armenian community outside the monastery of St. James, where they lived for two weeks, sleeping on the altar of the Cathedral of St. James. Soon after that they fled at night to Amman, Jordan. There he continued his studies-- but once again, one year before graduation, he had to quit school, this time due to the family’s financial straits. But he determinedly continued his studies on his own, preparing for the London University General Entrance Examination (GCE) and remarkably passed it. In 1951, a year after my wife’s and my return from a year’s teaching in Cyprus, he and our parents came to live with us in Beirut. He was then eighteen. From that time until 1956, when at the height of the Suez Crisis he migrated to the United States on a non-quota Palestinian refugee visa, he worked in the exchange section of Intra Bank of the Middle East. Gradually he became more introspective, silently dreaming about his future, aspiring to become a writer. The unexciting work and life in Beirut at the time offered little to an ambitious young man like Katch. Armed with letters of recommendation from the bank President, he therefore sought to carve a future for himself in the United States, and, as I said, migrated to it; where, fortuitously, he was hired by the Bank of America in Manhattan. Not satisfied with his starter’s position in the bank, he enrolled in night classes at Pace College, and after years of high work, graduated not with one but two Masters’ Degrees: in Finance and in Banking. Meanwhile he steadily rose in the ranks and-- after some time after returning from military service in the US army in Europe, in Verdun Franceâ,he was given the position of Assistant Vice President at the Bank. During his army service, Katch likewise distinguished himself, receiving a medal for his expert marksmanship, and, more importantly, by using his professional skills to create a more efficient accounting system than was in use by the army at the time, saving it up to a hundred thousand US dollars. In addition, he accompanied some of his superior officers on their inspection tours to various army centers in France and, I think, Germany. But most importantly, he was instrumental in saving a fellow recruit’s life during military exercises, by preventing a grenade from killing him. (In fact, his exceptional physical courage was evident even when he was nine or ten, when he risked his life trying to save his brother from drowning.) After some years of serving as a Senior Vice President at the Bank of America, he joined Allied Banks, a consortium of sixteen banks as Senior Vice President. Finally, some years later he moved to Bahrain, Manama, where he built a new bank, the Middle East Bank of Bahrain, from the foundations up. During the ten years as the bank’s president, he traveled extensively to Europe as a Board Member of a number of major financial institutions. It should be added that during his work in Bahrain, he served as the head of the Republican Party under President Reagan and after. In recognition of his efforts a plaque in his name with together with a small American flag was placed in the rotunda of the US Congress building. To the very end Katch’s deep love and caring for his family and relatives, and his abiding loyalty to his old friends, never waned. To his many cousins he was ‘like a brother” as one cousin told me with emotion when offering his condolences for Katch’s passing. And Katch’s profound sadness and pain for all the hardships and deprivations his parents suffered during their lifetime, never left him. Recently, during one our phone, he said that since our father had died at the age of seventy eight, he believed or thought that he himself would not live much longer. That thought or feeling was perhaps due to his poor physical condition. It may have been a premonition that the end was near. I tried to reassure him that father’s age when he died had nothing to do with the length of his lifeâ,or mine, since I already was well past eighty. But in a way I understood his worry or concern, particularly as he had great admiration for our father, no doubt because he was a self-made man who too had triumphed over a hard early life and determinedly, also achieved a considerable material and social status. Indeed, some of the traits he inherited from our father were quite evident in Katch’s own life. Like father he was physically and mentally tough; reiterating, during the last several difficult months, that he was a ‘soldier.” It is not sheer coincidence that during the Great War our father too, at a very young age, had also been a soldier.