The Kevorkian Papers

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JK_Family_at_350Physician. Born Murad Kevorkian on May 26, 1928, in Pontiac, Michigan, the second of three children born to Armenian immigrants Levon and Satenig Kevorkian. Kevorkian's parents were refugees who escaped the Armemian massacres that occurred shortly after World War I. Levon was smuggled out of Turkey by missionaries in 1912 and made his way to Pontiac, Michigan, where he found work at an automobile foundry. Satenig fled the Armenian death march, finding refuge with relatives in Paris, and eventually reuniting with her brother in Pontiac. Levon and Satenig met through the Armenian community in their city, where they married and began their family. The couple welcomed a daughter, Margaret, in 1926, followed by son Murad—who later earned the nickname "Jack" by American friends and teachers—and, finally, third child Flora.

After Levon lost his job at the foundry in the early 1930s, he began making a sizeable living as the owner of his own excavating company—a difficult feat in Depression-era America. While other families suffered financially, the Kevorkians began living a more comfortable life in a bucolic, multi-cultural suburb in Pontiac. "My parents sacrificed a great deal so that we children would be spared undue privation and misery," Kevorkian later wrote. "There was always enough to eat."

Levon and Satenig were strict and religious parents, who worked hard to make sure their children were obedient Christians. Jack, however, had trouble reconciling what he believed were conflicting religious ideas. His family regularly attended church, and Jack often railed against the idea of miracles and an all-knowing God in his weekly Sunday school class. If there were a God who could make his son walk on water, Kevorkian insisted, he would also have been able to prevent the Turkish slaughter of his entire extended family. Jack debated the idea of God's existence every week until he realized he would not find an acceptable explanation to his questions, and stopped attending church entirely by the age of 12.


0 #3 Julie InYourFaceNewYorker 2012-03-23 19:30
Not to be nitpicky, but I believe Dr. Kevorkian's name wasn't officially Murad. It is what his mother called him at home. According to his biography, he was named Jacob but got the name Jack after a teacher misread his birth certificate.

+2 #2 Julie InYourFaceNewYorker 2011-07-13 01:42
What foreign languages did Dr. Kevorkian speak?
+2 #1 Julie InYourFaceNewYorker 2011-05-16 23:56
So many of Dr. Kevorkian's proposals make so much sense. What really sickens me is how the medical community dismissed them, I suppose, because it gave it a creepy feeling up its collective spine. You'd think that SCIENTISTS would be more rational.

As for Kevorkian's eye study, I would find it creepy to see a corpse's eyes, but I would still be able to handle it which is what these doctors should have done. Then the whole thing with the experimentation and organ donation on condemned criminals and euthanasia patients-- that makes so much sense. If I were terminally ill I would opt for experimentation and organ donation under a heavy anesthetic before my death. Even before I learned about this idea, I knew at least that if I die young I want my body donated to medical research-- that is how science advances and I love and respect science-- and care about humanity-- too much not to contribute something. I made this wish clear to my family.


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