Cover photo for James Hamazasb Begian's Obituary
James Hamazasb Begian Profile Photo
1923 James 2020

James Hamazasb Begian

October 2, 1923 — December 31, 2020

James Hamazasb Begian, October 2, 1923-December 31, 2020 , born in Delray/Detroit Michigan.

Predeceased by his wife of 59 years, Sarah (Hovespian) Begian; their son James Nicholas; brothers Harry and Mike; and parents Neshan and Osge (Assarian) Begian. Also predeceased by a sister, Esther, who perished in a forced march during the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

Survived by his children: Yvonne Begian (Ralph Miller), Patricia O. Schlagheck (Robert), Yvette Kline (Allan), Charles (Lisa); three grandchildren: Robert, Sarah, and Kimberly; three great-grandchildren: Harper, Lucas, and Lando; nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.

A son of Armenian immigrants, Jim and his brothers were raised in the house his father built in Dearborn's Southend. There he knew and enjoyed the company of many other first generation Americans. He loved participating in sports, dancing, playing drums in his school bands, and life in general.

At 19, Jim worked part time as an usher at the Rio Theater in Detroit. One day, the movie was stopped and a man walked onto the stage to announce that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. A few months later, Jim began his adult work experience as a typist at the newly constructed B-24 bomber plant at Willow Run.

He was later offered a draft deferment by Willow Run, but chose to enter the Army in 1943, where his brothers were already serving. He was an MP at a prisoner of war camp in Alva, Oklahoma, and then a foreman with the Army Corps of Engineers, making lifelong friends along the way. He was sent to the Philippines in 1945, and to Occupied Japan after the war ended.

Jim worked in the Unemployment Benefits Office at Ford’s Rouge Plant for 50 years, becoming a supervisor, and taking a personal interest in helping those who, like his parents, had difficulty understanding the language. As his family grew, he added to his children's college funds by taking vacation employment as a building supervisor at the Michigan State Fair, and in the men's clothing department at Hudson's Downtown. Several other vacations were enjoyed with family in Michigan and points beyond, including New Jersey, Florida, and Brantford, Ontario. Nearing retirement, he and his wife moved the family home from Lincoln Park to Plymouth, Michigan.

He loved his family above all else. His phone conversations always began with, "How are you and the family?" He was a steadfast, conscientious provider, and a constant supportive and loving parent. He wanted his children to learn how to think, and would challenge them so they would consider things from all perspectives. He was known by all to be a down to earth, non-judgmental, honest gentleman. He was an easy going, gentle soul, with a positive attitude, quick wit, and playful, rich sense of humor. He loved to laugh, and to make others laugh. He did "the greatest generation" proud.

The last decade of his life was spent in the care of his daughter Yvonne and her husband Ralph, enjoying old movies, birdwatching, daily drives, chats and visits with friends and family. He passed away very peacefully at home, as was his wish. He was 97.

At his request, and because of Covid-19, no services are planned. Cremation is being handled by Schrader-Howell Funeral Home in Plymouth. Memorial donations may be made to Salina Intermediate School, 2623 Salina Street, Dearborn, Michigan 48120. Please include "Jim Begian Memorial".

The family would like to give special thanks to Dr. Alexandra Norcott of the Ann Arbor VA and Jennifer of Residential Home Hospice. We needed you and you were there.

If this was the end of a phone conversation, Jim would say, "My best to you and yours."
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