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Marge Injasoulian

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Injasoulian, Marge
79, died peacefully November 6, 2015. When Marge started making her mark on Phoenix in the 1970s, she was in the "only woman" category: She was usually the only woman in the room and the only woman at the table. This proud Armenian daughter spent a lifetime fighting for equality and justice. It began with her immigrant parents, who stressed the importance of education. She graduated from William Horlick High School in Racine, Wisconsin, which has named her to its Hall of Fame. She graduated from Northwestern University's School of Communication in 1959. She worked in New York and Milwaukee before coming to Phoenix in 1962 to be near her
sister Eve. Marge began her career in Phoenix when she met Homer Lane, who hired her as Promotion and Publicity Director at the CBS affiliate KOOL-Radio-TV. Shortly thereafter, she moved her father to Phoenix and he lived with Marge throughout the rest of his life. n 1972 when she became Vice President of Information Services for KOOL, she stood alone as the highest ranking woman in the Arizona media. KOOL made her the only female voice speaking out on issues, doing editorials at the end of the evening news. Besides her role in the media, she was also a community leader, active in over 35 different organizations. In the early 1970s, she joined the National Organization for Women and was active for many years. She worked tirelessly for the Arizona Democratic Party and headed its publicity committee. In 1977, she became the first woman ever named to lead the Charter Government Committee. That same year, she was the first female Parade Chairwoman of the Fiesta Bowl. She served on the board of the first Arizona Women's Commission created by Gov. Raul Castro, from 1975 to 1977; the board of directors of Arizona Emergency Medical Systems from 1977 to 1980; the advisory committee of the Arizona State Bar Foundation from 1980 to 1982; the Central Phoenix Development Committee, appointed by Mayor Margaret Hance, 1980 to 1984; the Phoenix All American City Committee in 1980; the board of directors of the Community Council, for a decade, beginning in 1984, and the board of directors of Life Teen from 1995 to 2000. She was a member of the Freedom's Foundation at Valley Forge, the Girl Scout Task Force, the Governor's 4-C's Committee for Public Hearings, United Cerebral Palsy Association of Arizona, Valley Big Brothers and Sisters and advisory councils for Arizona State University. In 1974, she joined the Soroptimist Club of Phoenix, known for founding Girls Ranch for troubled girls. She was on the board of directors for the service club's new project, Tumbleweed, creating a haven for runaway teens. In 1975, she was honored as Arizona's top woman communicator. It was one of many honors she received over the years, capped off by induction into the Arizona Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2006. Following her twenty years with KOOL, she made history again in 1982-and shocked many-when Bishop Thomas O'Brien named her the first woman to ever hold the position of Communication Director for the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix. During her first year at the Diocese in 1982, Marge created The Catholic Sun, a monthly newspaper distributed throughout the vast Diocese of Phoenix. She was instrumental in helping the Bishop bring Pope John Paul II to Phoenix in 1987 and Mother Teresa to town in 1989. She was in charge of over 2000 media from around the world for the Pope's visit, handling them with such a deft hand, they nicknamed her "Pitbull Injasoulian." She counted her meeting with Mother Teresa as one of the highlights of her life. In 1986, Marge conceived and created the Arizona Women's Town Hall through the Soroptimist Club. It met annually for a decade to get more women involved in mapping out solutions to community problems. Marge had been dismayed to discover there was no Armenian Church in Phoenix when she arrived here. Back home in Wisconsin, the church had been the center of community life, and Marge was a soloist in the choir-her beautiful soprano voice was often in demand for celebrations. True to her heritage, she organized church services in private homes for several years in the Valley. Then she helped lead an effort to build the St. Apkar Armenian Apostolic Church in Scottsdale. Marge retired in 2002 and enjoyed several years of good health, allowing her to travel the country. She was a member of Desert Adventures and for many years hosted their annual Thanksgiving Dinner and other events at her homes in Phoenix and Prescott. Eight years ago she was diagnosed with dementia, which later was identified as Alzheimer's. She was meticulously cared for throughout her illness and last days by her beloved partner of 29 years, Barbara Hanson. Marge was preceded in death by her mother, Elsie, who came to America in 1920 from an orphanage in Turkey to an arranged marriage; her father, Garabed Injasoulian, who immigrated to the United States in 1916 to escape the Turkish genocide that wiped out half the Armenian population; her sister, Eve Hatounian, and her brother, Peter. Besides her partner Barbara, Marge is survived by her sisters-in-law, Jan Haynes and Mary Ann Injasoulian; Wisconsin nieces and nephews from Peter's family: Charles "Garo" and Kim Injasoulian, Rose Ann Heller, Elizabeth Johnson and Tamara Becker; and Arizona nieces and nephew from Eve's family: Bill and Maggie Hatounian and Elizabeth Hatounian. In addition, this remarkable and outstanding woman will always be remembered by a host of friends, colleagues and admirers. A celebration of life is planned for Saturday, November 21 at 2:00, at the Praise and Worship Center, 2551 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler 85225. Donations may be made in Marge's name to , 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014.

Published in The Arizona Republic on Nov. 11, 2015
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