The Kuljian Family The Freshwater community tragically lost three members of the Kuljian family Sat, Nov 24, 2012. Howard, his wife, Mary, and their son, Geddie, perished in the surf of Big Lagoon where they often took family walks with their surviving daughter/sister, Olivia. Mary Elena Scott was born in Peoria, Illinois on April 8, 1955. She was the daughter of James Scott (deceased) and Ruth Krenn Scott (deceased). She had two brothers, Michael Scott (deceased) and David Scott as well as one sister, Theresa Jenkins. Mary is survived by their spouses, and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. Mary graduated high school from St Mary's Academy in Nauvoo, Illinois, and then attended the University of Iowa before moving to Eureka in 1979 where she finished her nursing degree and became a registered nurse. Howard Gregory Kuljian was born July 13, 1958 in Hampton, Virginia. He was the son of Iris Kuljian and Roy Kuljian (deceased). He is survived by his mother, Iris, brother, Daniel Kuljian, and sisters, Lynnette Johnson and Rachel Ikola as well as their spouses, and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. Howard attended Simi Valley High School and then fought fires on the Hot Shot crews in the summers; however the Eureka community was calling. Gregory (Geddie) James Kuljian was born June 5, 1996 in Arcata, California. He was the son of Mary and Howard. Geddie was a junior at Arcata High School. He had hopes of becoming a medical assistant in the military after high school. Geddie also had a deep interest in the study of aeronautical engineering. Howard, Mary and Geddie are survived by their loving daughter and sister, Olivia. Olivia graduated from Arcata High School in June and is attending college classes at College of the Redwoods. Mary and Howard met and fell in love on a backpacking trip in the Trinity Alps. They both adored the mountains. Howard proposed to Mary on the peak of Mt Shasta and they were married in Kneeland on a nearby hilltop. Mt Shasta topped their wedding cake. Howard and Mary's love deepened with the births of their dear children, Olivia (Livie) Ruth Kuljian, born on Sep 25, 1994 in Arcata and Geddie (Geddie) James Kuljian born on Jun 5, 1996 in Arcata. From the solid base of their loving home, their love continued to grow out into the community through their active involvement in everything that they came into contact with. Mary's work outside the home was always in a caring capacity. During the years prior to working for the county as a registered nurse, she cared for the elderly in their homes. Her work with the county brought Mary to her true calling. She put her heart and soul into working with unwed mothers-to-be. Mary's gift for loving and caring for others came to its fullness during the six years she helped provide support and resources for these people whose lives were transformed because of her. She was an artist and cartoonist with an incredible sense of humor. She volunteered extensively in the community through her children's schools, the Freshwater Grange, and anywhere she felt she was needed. After recovering from breast cancer in 2000, Mary joined the Humboldt Community Breast Health Project where she built a patient navigation and support program for women facing breast and gynecological cancer concerns. She worked tirelessly on behalf of women and their families, trained countless volunteers, built an angel fund to provide resources to those in need, collaborated with the medical community to raise awareness of the needs of women with cancer, role modeled to the staff that nothing was impossible, reached out to minority populations with education and support and stayed present to every single woman who came to the Project in need of information and support. Her work was guided by a belief in the importance of confronting fear and always growing hope. After years in the nursing field, Mary was able, in her final months, to pass on her extensive knowledge and personal experience to future nurses through her teaching position at College of the Redwoods. The Six Rivers National Forest family is grieving the loss of their Forest Fire Ecologist, Howard Kuljian. Howard's interest in fire management first began when he worked for the Forest Service as a temporary firefighter for the Angeles National Forest in the 1980's. He received his undergraduate degree in Geography from Humboldt State University (HSU), worked at Adventure's Edge for years, then settled down and raised a family. He was also a long time graphic artist at Bug Press. After 20 years, Howard had the tremendous courage to follow his long-term dream of pursuing a degree in fire ecology and redefining his career path. Howard worked for the Six Rivers National Forest beginning in 2009 while he was finishing his Master's Degree at Humboldt State University. Howard received his degree in 2010. Howard's thesis research focused on sudden oak death and fire interactions. When Howard was working on his Master's degree thesis, his field crew (and later lab crew) consisted of Mary, Geddie and Olivia. They took the drudgery of field work and made it into a family adventure. When his work shifted to lab burning (he was the architect of the famous burning tree that was in the lab for what seemed like ever), they filled in as data collectors and film crew for his novel experiments. The family drew cartoons of funny faces and trees which were a constant fixture on the white board in the lab. The impact of his research work is best understood by the fact that practically everyone in the land management community discusses his work as if it had been fact for many years. Geddie was often mistaken to be much older than he was because of his maturity and the orderly way he presented himself. Even at this young age, Geddie was a model human, an example to all of us of how to live. He was the kind of friend everyone wishes they had. His heart was full of love and compassion. He volunteered himself to help wherever he could, and he was not afraid to reach out to people, even if it meant an inconvenience to himself. Geddie wrote a newsletter for the Humboldt County Breast Health Project when he was ten describing what it was like to be a child with a mother undergoing treatment for breast cancer. He was also often the server for the Freshwater Grange pancake breakfasts. At school he was involved in both cross country, track, sailing, and loved his art classes. Geddie was always ready to explore. Put him in the forest and he would have had the time of his life by just being in nature and not needing any other entertainment. He loved his family and was completely dedicated to Howard, Mary, and Olivia. Being in the Kuljian house was like being in the coziest home. You were warmed by the laughter. You enjoyed the aroma of baked goods and occasionally, you heard Mary's beautiful singing voice as she busied herself pampering the heck out of you. The word "favor" was not in the Kuljian's vocabulary. When any member of the family did something for you, they were honored to do it. Howard, Mary and Geddie knew what was important. They were passionate and dedicated. They were a unique example of how to live; with family as their greatest treasure and passion. Their family adventures took them to snowy mountains, lush tropics and everything in between, often without leaving their backyard. Where else could you hunt for fairies and buried treasure or zip line past R2D2 and battle Darth Vader? A Memorial Service is planned for Sun, Dec 9, 2012, at Arcata High School at 3:00 pm. An account has been set up for donations to help Olivia at Coast Central Credit Union (Phone 705-445-8801). Checks should be made payable to Olivia Kuljian. Send to: Coast Central Credit Union, 2650 Harrison Ave, Eureka CA 95501.
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Published by Times-Standard on Dec. 1, 2012.