Robert Haig Levonian, departed this life on Thursday, April 22, 2021, just two days shy of his 94th birthday. He was born in Athens, Greece to a distinguished Armenian family April 24, 1927, to Professor Lootfy Levonian and Victoria Sarkissian Levonian. His twin sister, Helen, died in 1932 and is buried in The First Cemetery in Athens. His older brother, Dr. Rendel Levonian, died at age 93, in 2017 in Orange California.
Robert and his brother attended a Quaker boarding school near Banbury, England until World War II broke out and the family left for the United States. During the confusion of the departure, Robert was separated from the family and eventually wound up in Paris for the duration of the war and was recruited for the French Underground as a teenager and then was a short lived member of the French Foreign Legion. After the war, having had no high school experience, he studied for months and passed the French Baccalaureat and was admitted to the School of Engineering in Birmingham, England. He came to the United States in 1948 on a tennis scholarship to continue his engineering studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. In 1949 he interrupted his studies to work for Bechtel Corporation which was building the Trans Arabian Pipeline from Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf to Sidon, Lebanon. In 1953 he came to Southern California to finish his engineering degree and began working for Forest Lawn Company which eventually led him to opening his company, LCB & Associates, specializing in designing and building cemeteries throughout the United States.
In 1969 on a flight from Burbank to San Jose there was one seat left on the plane and he found himself sitting next to Suzanne Johnson from New Haven, Ky. This 45 minute flight resulted in finding his life partner of 52 years. Robert & Suzanne traveled the world for business and pleasure. Their travels took them to Italy to search for marble and granite for the cemetery projects and then to countries all over Europe. At age 88 Suzanne made him retire and convinced him to move to her home state. He always quipped that he spoke five languages but he never mastered Kentuckian.
Robert was known as an extraordinarily generous person, and entertaining storyteller, a dispenser of wisdom, and above all as having a kind heart. He considered becoming an American citizen his highest accomplishment.
Robert is survived by his wife Suzanne, of Bardstown, his brothers, widow, Hilde Levonian, of Orange California. Also by many nieces, nephews, to whom he was a mentor and cheerleader, as well as a host of friends around the United States and the world.
A graveside service will be held Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 11 AM at the Pavilion at St. Catherine Church Cemetery, in New Haven, Ky. with Rev. Wayne Jenkins presiding.
Donation may be made in his memory to St. Jude Memorial Giving, 501 St Jude Place, Memphis TN. 38105 or online at StJude.org or to the Humane Society of your choice.
It is recommended that all visitors wear a mask or face covering.
William R. Rust Funeral Home New Haven Chapel, 167 N. Main St. New Haven Kentucky is in charge of arrangements. Web page: williamrrustfuneralhome.com