July 17, 1926 ~ January 10, 2017
Formerly of Carmel, CA
Hiag Akmakjian, former columnist for the Monterey Herald back in the 1980s, died peacefully on Tuesday, January 10 in Wales, United Kingdom. He was 90 and had been dealing with lung cancer.
The author, photographer and artist lived with his wife Margaret in the Welsh village of Meidrim, but he was born on July 17, 1926 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Upon graduation from school at age 18 in 1944, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Upon finishing his training, he shipped over to Belgium just on the heels of the Battle of the Bulge. His battalion followed the German troops as they retreated to Germany until the war in Europe ended that May.
Using money from the GI Bill to further his education after graduation from Columbia University in New York, Akmakjian returned to Paris in the late-1940s to study painting. His experiences as a penniless student were later recounted in his barely fictionalized novel Cleo. When the money ran out he returned to New York where he fell in with the Abstract Expressionists and befriended Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. He recounted those days in his book, Name Dropping: The Cedar Bar in the 1950s. His own work was shown in New York galleries. Growing dissatisfied with the direction painting was taking, he instead became a book editor with the publishing house McGraw-Hill and studied psychoanalysis in order to become a therapist. In 1975 he wrote The Natural Way To Raise a Healthy Child, which became a Book of the Month Club selection.
Moving to Carmel, California in the mid-1970s, he studied photography with Ansel Adams, Brett Weston and Morley Baer. His psychoanalytic work, and his published book on raising children, led to his writing a newspaper column for the Monterey Herald called The Good Enough Parent that ran for several years during the 1980s. Later in life he collected his thoughts on childrearing in his book Babyloving – The Emotional Life of a Baby. During his time living on the Monterey Peninsula, he met his future wife Margaret who was also working for McGraw-Hill at the time.
In 1990 he left California and retired to the Pyrenees in southern France where he continued his painting and held local shows of his work, and then in 1996 he moved to West Wales where he remained until his death.
In 1996 he married Margaret Pitz Banks who survives him, as does his only son, Nicolas Akmakjian, who lives in New York. At his request, there were no memorials or ceremonies and his body was donated to the University of Wales Heath Hospital at Cardiff for medical research. View the online memorial for Hiag Akmakjian
Published by Monterey Herald Obits on Jan. 22, 2017.