Sema E. Minassian

Sema E. Minassian of Hollis, age 96, passed away July 5, 2021 in Nashua, NH after a long and vibrant life. She was born January 5, 1925 to Peter Asdourian and Lucy Dikranian in what was then Leninakan, Armenia (USSR). Sema and her parents (survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide) soon immigrated first to Mexico and, when she was 4, to New York City to join her father’s brother, a shopkeeper. There, she and her family lived for over 10 years in the grand parish house of the renowned Church of the Incarnation on Madison Avenue, for which her father worked as caretaker. In 1942 Sema graduated from high school and went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Hunter College in 1946. She was then assigned to teach for the New York City public schools in Harlem, where she taught successfully for 10 years. While teaching in Harlem, Sema completed a Master’s in education at Columbia University (1951). She also met architect and fellow Armenian Jack Minassian, whom she married in 1952. They had two children, Leslie and Adam, and made a home in Bayside, Queens, where they would reside for 35 years. After taking a decade off from teaching to raise her children, Sema returned to elementary teaching at P.S. 209 in Queens, NY. Finally, after 25 years as an engaging and popular teacher, she retired in 1980.

In 1996, Sema and her husband moved from Bayside to Hollis, NH to be closer to their daughter’s family. There, she became highly involved in various local activities, including the Garden Club, Women’s Club, and Milford’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation, for whose annual craft fair she sewed many popular “tooth fairies.” Sema and her husband were also members of the Saint Vartanantz Armenian Church of Chelmsford, MA. She enjoyed a long and healthy retirement at her home in Hollis, surviving her husband Jack by over 9 years.

Sema’s hobbies and talents included sewing, knitting, and cooking all manner of traditional Armenian dishes, including the delectable dessert pakhlava. She was particularly fond of gardening and was especially proud of her poppies. Sema also maintained a lifelong interest in the natural world, from raising Monarch caterpillars to adulthood as class demonstrations to observing deer, bears, and hummingbirds near her home.

Sema was predeceased by her husband Jack Minassian (2012); son Adam Minassian (1997); son-in-law Stuart Santelmann (2008); and sister-in-law Gloria Trunvere (2004). She is survived by her daughter Leslie Minassian; grandchildren Corey and Emma Santelmann; brother David Asdourian and sister-in-law Janet Asdourian of Detroit; sister-in-law and brother-in-law Roseann and Edward Alexander of Bethesda, MD; and many nieces, nephews, and friends by whom her great kindness and cheerful disposition will be deeply missed. Sema was adored by all who met her, especially her neighbors.

A celebration of her long life will be held at a later date (perhaps after some months) at Milford’s Unitarian Church, when they have resumed fully in-person events. To leave an online condolence through the Smith & Heald Funeral Home, please visit www.smith-heald.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Milford, NH to help fund their various charitable programs.