NORTH OXFORD - Joseph Stephen Topalian, age 95, died Sunday after along and eventful life. He was born in Worcester on June 26, 1925, the third child of Zakar and Bernadine (Balian) Topalian. He attended local schools, including Sever Prep, and graduated from South High School in 1942. Immediately after high school he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served with distinction throughout WW II, and was honorably discharged in January, 1946. He served aboard two destroyers, the USS Doyle (DD 494) in the North Atlantic and the USS Bryant (DD 665) in the Pacific, referred to as “General MacArthur’s Navy” during his island hopping invasions to re-take the Philippines. He received four Combat Stars and a Unit Presidential Citation for his ship’s participation in the Battle of Surigao Straits, where American battleships fired their guns against Vice Admiral Shoji Nishimura’s Southern Force; nearly all of which, including the battleships Yamashiro and Fusō and others were sunk.
At the end of the War in Europe, he qualified as an instructor in Advanced Fire Control Computers and served in Washington, D.C. as a member of the nucleus crew for a new destroyer that was being built in Philadelphia. Upon discharge, he studied Electrical Engineering at Worcester Junior College and Scholastic Philosophy, Linguistics and Theology at the Mechitarist Fathers of Boston and Vienna and the Catholic University of Austria. He also received a B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Latin from Fordham University.
He worked for 35 years, mostly in New Jersey as a Sr. Engineering Writer of military manuals and as a Software Engineer at Bell Labs. He was also a freelance technical translator (Russian, German, and Armenian). He retired in 1990. He eventually relocated back to North Oxford, MA in 2002 where he continued to pursue various projects. Among his hobbies were flying (private pilot since 1963), amateur radio and ancient and modern languages. He was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Tin Can Sailors. He was also a member of the Air Force Association, Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem and the Knights of Malta. He has gone to reunite with his parents and his sister Christine Topalian of North Oxford and his brother Garabed “Moe” Topalian of Auburn, MA and his niece, Susan Topalian. He is survived by his brother Paul Topalian and sister Theresa Topalian, also from North Oxford, his nephew Michael Topalian and his wife Dorian of Worcester and grand-nephews Robert Smith of Brooklyn, NY, Matthew Topalian of Clinton, MA and Christopher Topalian of Auburn, MA.
He was a member canonically of the Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church of Belmont, MA and active at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in North Oxford where he centered his life in “Love of Truth, personalized in Jesus Christ”.
A funeral will be held on Monday, November 9, 2020, from Paradis-Givner Funeral Home, 357 Main St., Oxford, followed by a Mass at 11 a.m. at St. Ann’s Church, 652 Main St., North Oxford. Burial will follow at St. John’s Cemetery in Worcester. Calling hours will be Sunday, November 8, 2020, from 5-8 p.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Ann’s Church, P.O. Box 488, North Oxford, MA 01537, or to Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church, 200 Lexington St., Belmont, MA 02478.
He will be in our hearts forever.