Thursday, March 04, 2010

Mr. Filian - you will be missed.

Hrant Ruben Filian
December 17, 1922
March 4, 2010

If I were to tell you the widest and most heroic tales and stories about life, love and the pursuit of the American dream, then I would be telling you stories about Hrant Filian - my father-in-law.

I am saddened that he passed away this morning but grateful that he did not suffer and that he was only sick for a very short time. He lived life to the fullest even when life looked bleak for him.

He was born in Beruit and grew up with 3 siblings. He was full of spirit and spunk. He loved a good shot of vodka and always toasted everyone at the table. The toasts were not just at the beginning of a meal....they lasted the whole meal. He was very good looking and a bit of a flirt.

He spoke 5 languages and was still taking English class up until his visit to the hospital 23 days ago. He always had more to learn.

He was a fighter pilot for the French and he saw so many things during his tour of duty. He would tell tales about the Congo, the pretty ladies that doctored his feet (they were burned by the hot sand in the dessert) and of course the plane crash. They crashed hard and all survived.

His life took a turn for the worse under Stalin. Hrant was held as a prisoner of war for 7 years in Siberia. He held true and held strong to survive. He had limited knowledge of sewing when he was captured and he turned that limited knowledge into life. He began sewing dresses for the officers wives. He would "knock-off" their dresses and make new patterns. The women began sneaking him breads and meats in between the layers of the fabrics. Of course he shared his food treasures to help others survive too. After 7 years of survival - a man walked into the room and said "Hrant Filian - we made a mistake and you are free to go!"

Soon after, he fell in love with Shelley - a Russian beauty. Quite scandalous at the time. They married in Georgia. In 1964 they welcomed their first son, Ruben into the world.

Hrant and his young family had their sights on America and in 1969 they came to California with $300. Each member of the family was allowed to take $100 and 1 gold piece of jewelry. After their arrival in California, Shelley learned that she was pregnant. (with my hubby - Eddie)

Hrant purchased a sewing machine and began hemming pants for local dry cleaners. He kept hemming and hemming and hemming until he had enough money saved to open his own tailor shop. He was a smashing success - designing and creating mens suits. He opened 3 clothing stores in San Francisco. He made suits for all the local sports teams, stayed current with fashion trends and employed many many people.

When he retired, Shelley and Hrant moved to Los Angeles. He was very active in the senior citizen center, a frequenter of the Americana, a beach goer and an awesome pop!

I will miss him dearly.

Hrant and his true love.

Eddie and his dad.

At the Americana - his favorite place for coffee and people watching.

Hrant and Ruben (his oldest son)

Just 2 months ago at his friends 90th birthday party.

In Malibu overlooking the water.

Another day in Malibu - this day we saw dolphins.

A friend to everyone!

Another spot he loved - Venice Beach. How much do you love that he even wears a suit to the beach?

A final Toast!


  1. They just don't make 'em like that anymore. What a fabulous life he led. You were blessed to have been part of that life. Hugs to you and your family.

  2. I am so sorry about your loss. What wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing your memories of this wonderful man with us. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


  3. Anonymous1:14 PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. What a wonderful man..your dad was just telling us stories about him today. Give Eddie a big us from all of us here at PFLG!!

  4. Sorry for your loss. Your father in law had an interesting life even though there were some not so good parts.

    Just a suggestion that you check the year of his birthday - you have 1992.

  5. I'm sorry for your loss. Sounds like it was an honor to know him. What an interesting person he must have been to talk with. Another amazing immigrant story! Thanks for sharing him with us.

  6. So sorry for your loss, Cathie. What an amazing and inspiring life's story. Wishing you and your family all the best wishes.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss. Your family is in my thoughts.

  8. What a touching and loving tribute. I am sorry.

  9. Anonymous6:46 PM

    What a wonderful story!

  10. Oh Cathie, thank you so much for sharing. Your father in law sounds like he was an amazing man and had a very full and interesting life. The pictures are wonderful.Another big hug to you and your husband.

  11. What a great story he lived!

  12. What an amazing man and I would have loved to have known him. He sounds like quite a character and listen to his stories. I'm so sorry for the loss this brings to your lives.

    A huge hug to you and the entire family.

  13. What an amazing man! Incredible story. He touched many lives and even more hearts. Thank you for sharing. It's never easy letting go. Hang on to the memories.

  14. What a life and an amazing man, your tribute does his justice.

  15. Anonymous5:38 PM

    I have such wonderful memories of Hrant's stories around the dinner table. He led such an incredible life and was such an inspiration to everyone.

    Love, Erin

  16. I just found your blog while surfing around and I've signed on as a follower.

    I'm so sorry for your family and the loss of this wonderful man. It's great that you have so many terrific memories of him...treasure them.


  17. beautiful post... amazing story... i am so sorry for your loss.

  18. Cathie, A good life well lived, and it sounds as though you all were certainly blessed to be a part of his life. I am sorry for your loss.

    May you all find peace and comfort in warm memories.


  19. My prayers are with you! I love the story. He was obviously such an amazing man.

  20. I am so sorry for your loss. I enjoyed the story of such an interesting man. The photos are great too.

    Mermaid Debbie

  21. Wow what an amazing life he had! I'm so sorry that he's passed but he will remain in your heart forever!

  22. This is the first time I have checked out your blog and I was blown away by this entry. I recently lost my father and know how terrible it can be. Your father-in-law had an amazing and interesting life. I really enjoyed what you shared and will be thinking of you and your family.

  23. What a wonderful man, he will be greatly missed, thanks for sharing his life with your readers and the photos are great. BarbM


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