Veteran Obituary: William "Bill" Matelyan

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by LA1 NEWS:

One-of-a-kind Northeast Los Angeles veteran of the Korean War, William "Bill" Matelyan, passed away in July. His official burial has been delayed inexplicably for a month and will finally occur on Wednesday, August 20. The fact that Matelyan was one of the relatively few remaining Korean War veterans in Northeast LA is not the main reason for his uniqueness. Rather, he was widely known across the city for his religious and political views, which he expressed to all by covering his car with graphics, flags, stickers, and a huge wooden sign latched to the top of the roof.  Matelyan was born into the Jewish faith on September 3, 1929, in Philadelphia, PA. He converted to Christianity as a young man, moved west, and preached the praise of Jesus for the rest of his life. He never forgot his own Jewish roots, however, and actively promoted America's allegiance with Israel. 

Matelyan was easy to spot. On the road, he could be seen up and down Figueroa Street driving his burgundy Buick sedan with images and verses pasted all over the place. The messages consisted of his favorite quotes from the Bible, and the images were of eagles, the Cross, and the Star of David, for starters. When not driving, Matelyan lived in his motor home for years, which was first parked at the dairy at the corner of Avenue 54 and Figueroa Street. Later, the owner of "Union 3" mechanic shop at the corner of Figueroa and Cypress Avenue offered to allow Matelyan to park his motor home in his shop's parking lot in exchange for providing de facto 24-hour security. Matelyan agreed, and continued his mission by covering his motor home in stickers, flags and signs calling for people to repent in the name of Jesus. 

A celebration of life was held for Matelyan on Thursday, August 14, 2014, at the Iglesia Pentecostal Esmisna at 5414 Figueroa Street. The most amazing thing about the ceremony was the number of people from all walks of live who Matelyan touched through his humor and love of God. 

Matelyan tragically died at 12:30pm on July 22, 2014, after complications resulting from being hit by an automobile earlier that morning. Matelyan had just gotten off the phone with local pastor Jesse Rosas prior to his accident. Rosas had agreed to pick Matelyan up later in the day in order to take him to a church service. A half-hour later, Matelyan was hit by a car while crossing the street. Rosas estimated during his podium time speech at the service that Matelyan had crossed Figueroa for his morning ritual of coffee at the Yum Yum Donuts near Avenue 26 when he was accidentally hit. 

Matelyan is survived by his wife, Arika, and a host of family and friends. Visitation is being held Tuesday, August 19, 2014, from 5pm to 8pm at 13800 Saticoy Street in Panorama City. Services with full military honors for the former soldier will be held Wednesday, August 20, 2014, beginning at 2pm at Riverside National Cemetery.

William "Bill" Matelyan, dead at 84.

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