Obituary: Janet Masih

Janet Masih, age 90, passed away on May 5, 2024, in the state of Connecticut.  Janet is survived by her children: Anita (her partner Dainius Vitartas), Karen (husband Steven Bacica), Joseph (wife Tamar Terzian), Jack (wife Kelly Spindel) as well as grandchildren Anais, Erik, Ethan, Zaven, Nairi, Sophia, Taleen and great grandson Kai. Janet was born in Kirkuk, Iraq in 1934 to survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Her father, Mampre, became a business owner and a prominent Kirkuk personality who pampered Janet as a child.

Despite a privileged childhood, Janet was made of something stronger. Janet had an enormous capacity for empathy and became deeply emotional when it came to the suffering of others. She married Rusk Masih who was active in Iraqi politics during a tumultuous era in the 1950s.  While her husband was being pursued by the secret police, Janet was summoned to police Headquarters for questioning.  She was accompanied by a fellow bank employee.  The police terrified her co-worker who ran away in fear and abandoned her.  Janet, knowing that she had to play her cards right, immediately accused the police of having killed her husband and pretended to be looking for him.  Janet began crying as she was both nervous and knew her act needed to appear genuine.  She was so convincing that the police begged her to stop crying and let her go.

This was one example of just how strong she could be under trying circumstances.  The Janet everyone knew was the loving and caring woman who treated everyone with respect and welcomed everyone into her home. She took a deep interest in the education of her children and made sure they all took their schooling seriously. She stayed at home, tutored her children, and helped them with their math, biology and chemistry.  She was a phenomenal cook and nobody ever left her home without being filled with delicious Armenian and Middle Eastern dishes.  The friends of her children often remember being fed exotic food that tasted amazing as well as being made to feel as welcome in her home as if it were their own.

As a child and teenager, Janet was a member of an Armenian singing/dance troop in Kirkuk, Iraq.  She traveled throughout Iraq and to Europe as a representative of Iraq’s diverse cultural and religious heritage.  Her children often recalled Janet singing traditional Armenian songs in her beautiful, melodic voice while preparing dinner for the family.  This memory stays with them to this day.

She immigrated to the United States with her husband in 1965 and became a United States citizen in 1975.  In addition to raising her children Janet knew that her caring manner and genuine love of children was a gift that she could share with others.  Janet was employed as a beloved Nanny to several families in the states of New Jersey and Connecticut.

Janet’s eleven nieces and nephews,  especially her nephew Berj Nalbandian, fondly recalled how Janet was a joy to be around and how caring and forgiving she could be.  Janet was very proud of her Armenian heritage and the mere mention of Armenia, its tragic history, or her mother Serpouhi’s experience surviving the genocide, would immediately bring Janet to tears. When Janet lived in Connecticut (1982-2005) she was a member of the St. George Armenian Church parish council and was very active in the Hartford Armenian community.  In 1988, when a devastating earthquake struck Lenninakan (now Gyumri), Armenia local media in Connecticut interviewed Janet at her home.  The interview was played out many times over the local news due to Janets emotional speech.                                                   .

A memorial service will be held at St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church, 4125 Fessenden Street, NW, Washington, DC on Tuesday, 28 May at 11:00 AM.  Internment will take place at Fairfax Memorial Park Cemetery, following the service at 2 PM.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made at the Armenian General Benevolent Union’s Global Relief Effort (

Տէրը լուսաւորէ ննջեցեալներու հոգիները, եւ Սուրբ Հոգիի մխիթարութիւնը պարգեւէ անոնց հարազատներուն

May God rest the souls of the departed and comfort the members of their families. 

Armenian cross
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