He attended the public schools and graduated from New York University in 1938 and from Fordham University Law School in 1942. Derounian entered the United States Army as a private in July 1942 and graduated from officers school as an Infantry officer and was assigned to the 327th Infantry.
When he was three, his family left Bulgaria with his two other brothers (one of whom was the journalist John Roy Carlson) to the United States and settled in Mineola, New New York He was admitted to the New York bar in 1942 and began practice in Mineola the same year. He served overseas from October 1944 to March 1946 and separated from the service as a captain in May 1946.
He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with oak leaf.
He was elected as a Republican to the Eighty-third and to the five succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1953-January 3, 1965). In 1966 Derounian defeated future Central Intelligence Agency Director William Casey in the Republican primary, but was again defeated by Republican
Wolff in November, though by an even more narrow tally of 81,959 (503%) to 81,122 (497%). Thereafter, he served as justice of the New York Supreme Court, 1969-1981.
He retired to Austin, Texas, saying "I think New York has gotten a little too crowded.
Austin is an attractive, educational city." Derounian was additionally a professor of law at the University of Texas. As a Congressman, Derounian was part of the Congressional Subcommittee that investigated the 1950s Quiz show scandals. This event is presented in Robert Redford"s 1994 film Quiz Show, where Derounian is shown harshly criticizing Charles Van Doren, after he admits to cheating on the television game show Twenty One.
When his fellow Congressmen praise Van Doren for his statement, Derounian dissents saying:
There is a similar anecdote from his youth, when Derounian was helping his father in his wholesale food store as a student.
A customer once complained that the 20-year-old Derounian overweighed a shipment of cheese, and his father rebuked him. The young Derounian apologized, but his father shot back:
"You made a mistake, and you"re sorry.
That"s what every dishonest person says when he"s caught. Sure, I know you didn"t mean to do the wrong thing, but who else knows it? A reputation for honesty is one thing money can"t buy.
lieutenant can be preserved only by not making mistakes, not by making apologies.
You remember that, boy, as long as you live.".
Served to captain infantry, 103rd Division Army of the United States, 1942-1946. Major Reserve; Member American, Travis County bar associations, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Delta Theta Pi. Clubs: Chowder and Marching (Washington).
Lodges: Masons; Elks.
Married Emily Ann Kennard, August 20, 1947. Children: Ann Ashby, Eleanor Kennard, Steven Blake.