Dr. Vicken Kalbian: a Steadfast Friend to Anera and to Palestinians
Anera is mourning the death of Dr. Vicken Kalbian, who died on Friday, September 2, 2021, at the age of 96. His influence and leadership has been seminal to Anera for over four decades.
Long a pillar of Jerusalem’s medical community and one of its most celebrated and accomplished physicians, Vicken maintained his commitment to meeting the needs of the Palestinian people after he and his wife, Ada, came to the US in the years after the June 1967 war.
Very early in Anera’s history, Vicken got involved with the organization’s work of delivering humanitarian relief to Palestinians. In 1980, he began serving as the chair of Anera’s medical committee, a role he held for 31 years. The committee under his guidance helped Anera build up what is now nearly a $100 million medical aid and humanitarian relief effort annually – Anera’s biggest program.
While Anera owes Vicken a huge debt of gratitude, he has touched the lives of many thousands of families directly and indirectly in the Middle East and as a practicing doctor in the United States. His work with Anera’s medical committee made it possible for patients across Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan to afford vital medicines. And the donations Anera sent to hospitals and clinics over the years allowed them to redirect scarce resources to build up their capacity to serve their communities.
“Vicken was a very special person to many of us,” says Dr. Alfred Khoury, a long-time fellow member of the medical committee. “To me he was a friend and a mentor who I could always go to for advice. He will be truly missed, but his legacy as a humanitarian will endure for many years to come.”
“I met Vicken late in his life, after he had already done more than most people do in two lifetimes,’ says Anera President & CEO Sean Carroll. “Yet, at over 90 years old, Dr. Kalbian was still driving his car to visit patients. When I told him how large Anera’s medical donations program had become, he could hardly believe it, and he was too humble to accept the credit that goes to him for being the force that helped build it. We have lost a giant. But in his spirit and in his honor, we will keep growing what he started.”
Vicken Kalbian is certainly leaving an indelible mark with everyone who has had the pleasure and privilege of knowing and working with him. His experience and insights have been invaluable to Anera’s staff and board and we will greatly miss him.
Vicken is preceded in death by Ada, his wife of 65 years. He is survived by his three children – Haig, Aline, and Maral; five grandchildren – Laurie, Taleen, Simon, Evan and Eva; and Gabriella, his great-granddaughter.
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