August 5, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Remembering Femma Mahdessian, 1933-2020

On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Femma Mahdessian, 86, passed away at her home in Santa Monica, CA, with her loving daughter, Y Fray, at her side, after a two year battle with lung cancer.

From her birth on October 30, 1933 in Amsterdam, to her death, she touched everyone who knew her with her fortitude, beauty, and character. Femma, along with her parents, Solomon and Yette (Van de kar) Slap, endured the horrors of the Holocaust, and were survivors of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. After liberation, the family welcomed the birth of Femma’s sister, Rhea (Cannon) Slap. The family immigrated to South America, living briefly in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, before settling in Los Angeles in 1954. On the ship from Buenos Aires, Femma met her first husband, Max Fray, and they were married in Los Angeles, in 1956. Together they had one daughter, Y Fray. Femma’s astounding beauty was the reason she met her 2nd husband, anesthesiologist, Dr. Haig Mahdessian, while working at a department store in Los Angeles. He saw her working behind the cosmetics counter, and for him, it was literally love-at-first-sight. They had one daughter, Debbie Mahdessian. Femma and Haig loved to play nightly games of Scrabble with each other, and were both so competitive, that it led to a divorce. Love ultimately trumped competition, and the two remarried each other and remained together until Haig’s death in 2006.

Femma had two great passions which complemented each other, her Welsh Terrier, Pickles, and hiking. Whether leading hikes for the local chapter of The Sierra Club, backpacking in Yosemite or spending summers trekking the Swiss Alps, Femma never met a trail she couldn’t conquer. When Femma could no longer hike, due to her illness, she took great joy in making sure that Pickles was able to still enjoy hiking, and arranged for Pickles to be part of a group dog hike multiple times a week. Pickles’ untimely passing in the fall of 2019 devastated Femma, and delivered a blow to her unflappable strength that she was unable to overcome. After Haig’s passing in 2006, Femma discovered another passion and talent, writing. She enrolled in courses at Emeritus College in Santa Monica. Her stories are a personal, touching glimpse into her life and experiences during and after the Holocaust. In her writings, the beauty of her post-war life was often juxtaposed with an experience during the war, and somehow, she was able to acknowledge the gifts in each. Her stories have been published in “The Pen & Brush” and are also going to be delivered to the Bergen-Belsen Museum.

Femma is survived not only by her sister and daughters, but by five grandsons (Sam, Henry, Theo, Oliver & Simon Catanzaro), her son-in-law, Theodore Catanzaro, and her cousin, Eddy Slap. Her vitality and originality will be missed not only by them, but by her friends and all of those who knew her.

Per Femma’s wishes, there will be no formal funeral services. When the current situation with quarantine and social distancing lifts family, friends, and others whose lives Femma touched, will all be invited to Will Rogers Park, where she spent so many wonderful times, to honor, reminisce, and celebrate the indomitable person that she was.

In this time of the COVID pandemic, in lieu of any donations, the family asks that everyone take care of themselves and each other.

Related Posts

New Street Furniture Program Coming to Bus Stops Across Los Angeles

August 4, 2021

August 4, 2021

StreetsLA is debuting a new program adding shade, seating, and other amenities to bus stops across Los Angeles. Brought to...

New Renderings Revealed for Future Multi-Use Building on La Cienega blvd

August 4, 2021

August 4, 2021

The SHop will be a multifamily housing and office space replacing the self-storage facility on the corner of La Cienega...

New West LA High-Rise Apartment Building Reaches its Final Height

August 4, 2021

August 4, 2021

“The Landmark” is the tallest apartment building West of the 405 and the first new high-rise built in the last...

Santa Monica’s UCLA Hospital Ranks No. 1 in State, No. 3 in Nation

August 3, 2021

August 3, 2021

Highest set of rankings ever for UCLA Health  By Sam Catanzaro UCLA Health hospitals have ranked No. 1 in both...

La County Health Lifts Water Advisory For Santa Monica Beaches: Santa Monica Beat – August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * La County Health Lifts Water Advisory For Santa Monica Beaches *...

Man Killed in Santa Monica Hit and Run

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Fatality occurs early Monday morning on Santa Monica Boulevard By Sam Catanzaro A man was killed in a hit and...

Millions of Gallons of Partially Treated Sewage Continue to be Discharged Into Santa Monica Bay

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant still not operating at full efficiency following July spill  By Sam Catanzaro Three weeks after a...

Library Director Patty Wong to Leave Santa Monica

July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL) Director Patty Wong announced recently that she will leave Santa Monica to take on the...

City Council Prioritizes Housing for Historically Displaced Households

July 28, 2021

July 28, 2021

At its meeting on July 13, Santa Monica City Council made changes to Santa Monica’s Affordable Housing Production Program and...

Homeless Man Charged with Hate Crime in Assault of Korean Woman in Santa Monica

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Melvin Taylor faces charges in connection to July 23 incident By Sam Catanzaro Hate crime charges have been filed against...

Homeless Advocate Arrested Near Shelter on Suspicion of Dealing Drugs, Claims no Wrongdoing

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

65-year-old Garry Featherstone accused of selling meth, PCP By Sam Catanzaro A self-described homeless outreach advocate was recently arrested near...

Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa Monica: Santa Monica Beat – July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa...