Best man ever' dies

By Lena Khzouz, The News-Herald

PUBLISHED: July 12, 2006

MELVINDALE Mark Kavorkian, the voice of Melvindale and the rock of his family, died Saturday, July 8, 2006, at the age of 52.

"I can't even begin to tell you how many lives he touched," his wife, Ann Marie Kavorkian, said through tears.

Simply stated, she said he was the "best man ever."

Kavorkian was a longtime member of the Melvindale-Northern Allen Park Public School District, first as a student, then as a teacher, coach and administrator.

"Mark Kavorkian was a special person," said Cora Kelly, chief executive officer and superintendent of the district. "He was highly regarded in both the Melvindale community and in our school system."

Kelly said Kavorkian held a special place in her heart as he was a student in her English class in 1969.

He graduated from Melvindale High School in 1971 and later taught at the high school.

"He loved his students and gave his life to our schools," Kelly said.

"He will be sorely missed as an administrator. Our home football games will not be the same without his familiar voice broadcasting from the press box at Cardinal Stadium."

At all the home football games, Kavorkian served as the play-by-play announcer.

Over the years, he came to be known as the voice of Melvindale, his wife said.

Kelly said she often teased him by saying that his blood ran Cardinal Red.

The alumnus began working for the district in August 1978, when he was hired as a high school social studies teacher.

During the early 1980s, he taught adult education.

In 1990, he became assistant principal of Strong Middle School, and in 1994, obtained the same position at Melvindale High School.

He later returned to the middle school as an assistant principal.

Beginning in 1995, he was the junior varsity wrestling coach for about 10 years.

In 1998, he was a football coach for the eighth grade. He also coached track.

In 2001, he was named principal at Strong.

The Kavorkian family, which includes two daughters, lives in Allen Park.

"He was a wonderful husband and father," his wife said. "He was always there for us whenever we needed him, and he encouraged us every day of our lives.

"He was a caring, loving husband, and he was always there for me. And whenever the girls had problems, they came to him. They called him their rock."

The Kavorkians also have a grandson, now 3, and a younger granddaughter.

Jason used to play football with his granddad, whom he called his papa, his wife said.

Jason was the star of grandpa's eye, and the boy felt the same about papa.

"He thought he was everything," Ann Marie Kavorkian said.

At work, the teachers were like one big family or a team, she said.

"They were there for one another," his wife said. "It was like a second family ... to him."

While Kavorkian was in the hospital due to complications after surgery prior to his death, he was flooded with letters and get-well cards.

Some letters even came from former students in California, his wife said.

"He touched everybody," she said.

Some of his former students' letters discussed how he was a motivator, and they recalled his speeches, especially as related to sports events.

One student's letter to Kavorkian says he had the athletes holding their heads high.

"Win or lose, we were proud to represent Melvindale," it says.

Both at work and outside of work, Kavorkian was all about history.

He and his nearly lifelong friend, Jim Berry, took road trips to historical sites every year.

He also was a 32nd degree Mason, a Shriner and a member of Lincoln Park Ionic Lodge 539.

His wife said he knew former students and other people everywhere he went, whether it was apple or pumpkin picking or on vacation miles away.

"He touched so many lives," she said. "The big thing is, he loved kids. He loved working with those kids.

"He was our rock. He held everything together."

In addition to his wife, daughters Julie and Jennifer and grandchildren Jason and Kayla, Kavorkian is survived by his parents, George and Patricia Kavorkian of Melvindale.

Visitation is from 2 to 9 p.m. today at the Allen Park Chapel-Martenson Family of Funeral Homes, 10915 Allen Road. A Masonic service is scheduled for 7 p.m. today.

A service will be held at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Sebastian Catholic Church, 20710 Colgate, in Dearborn Heights, and a Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m.

Burial will be at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Cemetery in Brownstown Township.

Donations are suggested to the Mark Kavorkian Scholarship Fund.