Karnig Arsen Thomasian died on July 5, 2023 in Pompton Plains, NJ. Born in NYC on April 8, 1924 to immigrant Armenian parents, Karnig was raised in a loving home full of old world traditions. As a child he loved sports, especially baseball. He followed the NY Yankees his entire life. One of the highlights of his childhood was when he met his idol, Lou Gehrig. By the time high school graduation neared, WWII was looming. Always the patriot, Karnig dropped out of school to join the Army Air Corps. Because of his age and the fact that he was an only child, he needed his parents' permission to enlist. His parents placed one condition before giving their blessing; that he promises to finish high school and get his diploma. He kept his promise.
He completed basic training and rose to the rank of Staff Sgt. He became a flight engineer on the state-of-the-art B-29. Stationed in Karachi, India his third mission on December 14, 1944, took his crew to Rangoon, Burma where his plane exploded due to colliding bombs under his plane and set off a chain reaction in his formation. He was the last to parachute out of the plane and he watched in shock as 5 of his buddies and the wreckage of the B29 fell to earth in a ball of fire. He was quickly captured and taken to a Japanese prison camp where he remained until his liberation on May 2, 1945. The horrors he experienced as a POW remained with him for the rest of his life.
After the war, he returned to life in NYC and began a career in advertising. On a business trip to Pittsburgh, PA he met the love of his life, Diana. They married in 1952 after dating five months. After two years in NYC and the birth of their first child, Linda they moved to River Edge, NJ where their second daughter Karla completed the family. Over the years, Karnig and his dear Diana turned their backyard into a beautiful Japanese garden complete with a waterfall, 3 patios, a barbecue pit, a bamboo grove and added a shuffleboard court on the side of the house just for fun! Each stone was cemented in place by Karnig, each shrub pruned by Diana. The Thomasian home was known for its warmth, hospitality, good food, laughter, love and oh the parties! Mom and Dad also created a home that was a safe harbor for people who came to this country seeking to make a new life. Karnig was active and loved playing tennis, racquetball and handball often beating men half his age.
He and his wife were adventurous souls who went hot air ballooning, rode 10 speed bikes, shot the rapids in Colorado and traveled the world. He served his community in many ways and soon after retiring at 70, he became an NSO with the VA and helped veterans from all wars navigate the maze of the VA system to get their disability payments and other well-earned benefits that were life-changing. He surprised himself by becoming an author at the age of 80. With mom by his side, as his Editor-in-Chief, he wrote Then There Were Six which told the story of the Rangoon air disaster and his life as a POW. Karnig loved to speak to various audiences across the country particularly young students about his experiences to help them begin to understand the cost of war and what it taught him.
After losing his beloved Diana in 2011, Karnig moved to Cedar Crest in Pompton Plains. After a few months, God blessed him with a great love for a second time when he met Inga in Cedar Crest's communal garden. It was there that their love grew. They were inseparable from then on. Their love was an unexpected gift they cherished daily. They shared a deep passion for gardening and created a beautiful and unique oasis they dubbed "Shangri-La" complete with a small waterfall!
After losing Inga in January 2023, his joy for life began to fade. Finally, with his daughter, Karla, embracing him, he joined Diana and Inga in heaven. Karnig is survived by his "first born" Linda and her husband Ed Glagola, his "little baby daughter" Karla Robertson, sister-in-law, Claudette Sarian, granddaughter Alicia Thomasian, and nephews Chris and Mark Sarian.
Karnig will be remembered for his larger-than-life presence, his booming laughter, his patriotism, his friendship, generosity of spirit and positive outlook and his perseverance in times of adversity. His compassion for others and straight-talking way of communicating was as much a part of him as were his endless enthusiasm and childlike glee in playing practical jokes on some people and living with wild abandon. He was the kind of guy you knew for 5 minutes, and you ended up loving him. He will be missed by all who were touched by him.
Celebration Service details:
Chapel at Cedar Crest
Cedar Crest Village Drive
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
Friday, July 28, 2023
Coffee and dessert reception afterward at Cedar Crest- specific location to be announced at service.
Please do not park in any spaces marked RESERVED.
Karnig will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery at a future time yet to be assigned by ANC. I will advise everyone when I hear from them. Be patient. It will be a while.
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