Diana “Anahid” (Ohanian) Aykanian, 90, beloved wife of 57 years of Ara Aykanian, who predeceased her in 2016, died Tuesday, April 28, of complications related to COVID-19. Born in Lowell, MA on September 29, 1929, daughter of Oscar and Mary Ohanian and sister of Siranoush (“Sally”) Krikorian, she graduated from Lowell High School, where she took pride in being a girl officer. After high school, Diana worked as a hairdresser for many years, supporting herself and her parents. On December 28, 1959, Diana married Ara Aykanian of Springfield, Indian Orchard, MA. They settled in Framingham, MA where they raised their two children.
Although Diana never went to college, she was an avid reader starting as a young girl, when the public library was a refuge for her. Like her husband, who had also grown up in poverty and experienced the trauma of the Armenian Genocide, Diana never forgot the poor and disenfranchised with whom she always identified and sought to help in any way that she could. She took pride in buying food and clothing and personally delivering them to those in need. She and her husband also sponsored orphaned children in Armenia and were generous supporters of the Armenian church and other Armenian organizations throughout their lifetimes. For many years, Diana was on the board of directors and did fundraising for the Armenian youth camp AYF Camp Haiastan in Franklin, MA, and subsequently for the Armenian Relief Society. A lifelong progressive Democrat, Diana believed passionately in social justice and in defending the rights of people of color, the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed.
Those who knew her later in life characterized her as “remarkable,” and a “fearless fighter.” Much of her strength came from her faith, her positive attitude and love of life. Art, literature, beauty and prayer were sustaining forces for her. She loved to garden, when she was able, and always kept fresh flowers and plants, which she took pleasure in taking care of and watching grow. She also loved art, and not only surrounded herself with paintings and framed prints, but also read voraciously about the lives of artists, from the Armenian artist Arshile Gorky to Jean-Michel Basquiat. For close to a decade, Diana volunteered at “The Heritage Gallery,” at the Callahan Senior Center in downtown Framingham. She loved helping people find their personal treasures and sharing her love of all things unique and beautiful.
Diana is survived by her two children, Nancy Aykanian of Newton, and David Aykanian, his wife Anna and her granddaughter Kira Paige, whom she adored, of Framingham; her nephew Gregory Krikorian and wife Carol of Southborough, their children; and many other nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Diana Aykanian’s name to the Armenian Church of the Holy Translators, 38 Franklin St., Framingham, MA 01702.
Armenian Church of The Holy Translators
38 Franklin Street, Framingham MA 01702