Obituary for Naomi Zeytoonian
November 2, 1934 – August 3, 2023
Naomi Basdekian Zeytoonian passed away Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. She was born Nov. 2, 1934 in Washington, D.C. to parents Armenag and Akabe (Aharonian) Basdekian. After graduation from D.C. schools, she worked for the Office of the Surgeon General, moving on to the Pentagon as a secretary to Major Farrell of the Army Signal Corps.
In 1956, she co-chaired the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) convention in Washington, D.C., where she met the love of her life, Carnig (Carl) Leon Zeytoonian. They married the following year at St. James Armenian Church in Watertown, Ma., raised three children and operated several pharmacies in Watertown and later in Coral Springs, Fla.
She was an avid member of women’s clubs: Zonta International; AIWA (Armenian International Women’s Association), where she was awarded “Woman of the Year” in 1993; ACYOA; Daughters of Vartan; and the Union of Marash Armenians (UMA). She was a charter member of the Ft. Lauderdale Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and a founding member of the St. Mary Armenian Church in Washington D.C. and the St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, Fla., where she also served on the Parish Council and helped organize the parish women’s guilds. Naomi was a charter member of the Daughters of Vartan Siranoush Otyag in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and since her move to Racine in 2009, she has been a member of Hripsime Otyag in Milwaukee.
Naomi was the CEO of USA Temps in Ft. Lauderdale. Active in civic life, she was the founder of the “Our Town International Food Festival,” bringing ethnic groups and their cultures together under one huge tent every year. She was also dedicated to the local Kids ‘n Us program and received several awards for her community involvement. She supported Carl’s public service as Vice Mayor and commissioner of Coral Springs; she served on the Planning and Zoning Commission of Coral Springs. Later in life, in Racine, where she made her home in 2009, Naomi worked for Walmart as a cashier and for the Racine County Clerk of Courts until the age of 83.
She is a published author, member of the Metro-Dade media, and was a freelance reporter for the Armenian Mirror-Spectator for over 50 years writing her “Dolphin Country” column. She traveled extensively with her husband and assisted him on his trips to Armenia, bringing wheelchairs for the Wheelchair Foundation of America.
She is survived by a sister, Mary Bagdasarian; brothers in law, Nerses Zeytoonian and Joe Zeytoonian. She was a loving mother to her three children and their spouses, Michael and Lisa Zeytoonian, Meline and Avak Grigorian, Armen and Mary Zeytoonian; daughter in law, Rhona Zeytoonian; grandmother to Justin and Nicole Zeytoonian, Noelle and Antonio Lepore, Ani and Zach Kornick, Caitlin and John Hall, Alina Grigorian and Tom Hastreiter, Anoush Grigorian and David Barreto and Molly Zeytoonian; great-grandchildren, Tyler and Deacon Zeytoonian, Callie and Madelene Lepore and Leonardo Barreto.
She is preceded in death by her loving husband, Carnig (Carl) Zeytoonian; and brothers, Capt. Edward Basdekian and Haig Basdekian.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., with a 9:30 a.m. visitation, on Sept. 5 at St. Mesrob Armenian Church in Racine. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the St. Mesrob Armenian Church or to the Daughters of Vartan.
Obituary and photo of Naomi Zeytoonian courtesy of Purath-Strand Funeral Home.