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   Obituary - Vladimir Zakian


Vladimir Zakian

House: Grigg
Years: 1950-1953

On the 21st February 2012, Webmaster received an e-mail from Marc Zakian, Valdimir's son:

Please find a below a copy of my father’s obituary which appeared in The Guardian on Monday, 13th February 2012. He was a student at the Prince of Wales School in the 1950s.

Vladimir Zakian
Vladimir Zakian was born in Egypt, went to school in Kenya,
became a lecturer at Manchester University and
enjoyed the suburban solace of his Cheshire home

My father, Vladimir Zakian, who has died aged 75, lived his life in several countries. He was born in Cairo where his early life was not easy. As an insurgency raged, Vladimir's Italian mother hid her children in the loft of their house to save them from any murderous intruders. The family left Egypt, hitching a lift on a crocodile skin trader's truck which took them through wartorn Sudan to a new life in East Africa.

In 1950 Vladimir was sent to the Prince of Wales School in Nairobi, Kenya, where he quickly had to master English. He was an all-rounder: the captain of his house athletics team, a participant in a gymnastics show staged for the visiting Princess Elizabeth and an entertainer, playing songs on his guitar (one of his fellow pupils was the singer Roger Whittaker).

His grandfather was one of the principal engineers on the first Aswan Dam, and Vladimir went to Cardiff University to study civil engineering in preparation for running the family business. But with the Mau Mau uprising taking place in Kenya, his family decided to leave Africa.

In 1957 Vladimir married my mother, Valerie. After completing his PhD, he was a lecturer in electrical engineering at Loughborough University, and in control systems – a branch of engineering and mathematics – at Manchester University. Vladimir excelled as an academic and a teacher and had the ability to make complicated ideas accessible.

The suburban solace of our Cheshire home was Vladimir's antidote to his unsettled upbringing. But his wanderlust remained. Inspired by that alternative bible The Whole Earth Catalog, he announced in the 1970s that we were moving to New Zealand to live in a geodesic dome. The ideas kept coming, but – apart from a sabbatical in Philadelphia – we stayed put.

In his field of control systems, he made Open University television programmes (one of the few occasions he was persuaded to wear a jacket and tie) and published academic books. Vladimir's work has been used in the design of computers, airport terminals, ambulance beds and high-voltage energy transmission.

For my father the material and scientific world was not enough – he spent many years studying Buddhist meditation, Sufism and mysticism. A truly international spirit, his gift was to inspire people with ideas and conversation.

Vladimir's first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his second wife, Beverley, whom he married in 2003, and their sons, Jonathan and Luke; me and my sister, Laura; and his half-sister, Tatiana.

Marc Zakian is a travel writer, journalist and history guide. His work features in most UK newspapers from the Guardian to the Telegraph, as well as magazines and publications around the world.

The following was Vladimir's entry in the Alumni section of this web site prior to his death:

Vladimir Zakian

House: Grigg
Years: 1950-1953

(Registered - 13th Dec 2002)