A 104-year-old Milwaukee photographer who survived the Armenian genocide, shot photos of President Franklin Roosevelt and saw Babe Ruth play at Yankee Stadium has died, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
B. Artin Haig died of natural causes at St. John’s on the Lake where he lived. Haig would have turned 105 in August.
Born Haig Artin Kojababian in Armenia in 1914, less than a week after the start of World War I, he was orphaned at the age of 4 or 5. He saw his mother dragged away by Turkish soldiers; his father, a math professor, disappeared. His family was wealthy and among the ruling class in their Armenian village of Hadjin.
He fled Armenia and lived with an uncle in Constantinople, then moved to Marseilles, France, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, before immigrating to New York when he was around 10 years old. There, a distant cousin owned a photography studio at West 46th Street and Broadway — Times Square. Haig wanted to photograph pretty girls and he asked his cousin, who took pictures for theater producer Flo Ziegfeld, what he needed to do to become a professional photographer.
Haig moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for Underwood & Underwood, a news photography company that had studios at hotels where brides would come to get their photos taken. At that time, Haig recalled, brides would arrange for photos to be taken by two or three photographers free of charge before choosing their favorite to hire.