A Special Tribute to Vasken Najarian: 1932-2015

Vasken Najarian

Vasken Najarian


An extraordinary personality has gone out from our midst. A unique husband, father, grandfather, benefactor, friend, builder of churches and schools, who was so special, so multi-talented, so resourceful, so dedicated to his tasks, so inspirational in his visionary service and leadership, and so wholeheartedly devoted to his family, community and profession. It is impossible to measure his character and life by the ordinary standards that we use for measuring human beings. My dear friend, Vasken Najarian’s death is something that I can still hardly believe. He has left a vacancy of immense proportions – – a vacancy that no other individual in our community can fill. It is impossible to put into words how I feel, but in writing I would like to recall the exemplary life of one of our most visionary and brilliant servant-leaders. His departure is our loss. His life should be our lesson.

As a member of the Board of Trustees, Vasken was my mentor and counselor during my tenure as president of the American Armenian International College at the University of La Verne. His unique leadership qualities, organizational skills and honesty combined with his enthusiasm, dynamism, tireless efforts, perennial optimism, conscientious loyalty to what he believed to be right and true, and unwavering commitment to Armenian higher education touched and enriched my life. He served our community with unparalleled dedication. He was an outstanding example of the finest in the Armenian Christian character and attributes. His exemplary service lifted them above the crowd and made him a vast source of inspiration to those who sought his invaluable friendship.

Vasken was a gifted man in the service of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Church, the Forty Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church of Orange County, the Ari Guiragos Minassian Armenian School, the American Armenian International College, Mashdots College, and numerous other organizations. He loved Armenia and the Armenian people, and supported their needs so generously. He was a staunch supporter of the Armenian Cause. His humanitarian endeavors symbolized the intellectual renaissance of the Armenian people despite Turkey’s authorship of the Armenian Genocide. The resistance of Urfa’s Armenians in 1915 under the brave leadership of his uncle, Commander Mgerdich Yetneghparian, was of keen interest to him. He loved America – the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. He came to the United States as an immigrant and was extremely grateful for the opportunities America gave him to succeed in life. He was a true humanitarian and a man of distinction, who had few peers but many admirers, and much to be admired for as a reliable friend in the lives of so many. His face was lighted with a genuine smile, his movement upward and onward, drawing with the power of a magnet for others to follow his example

Another characteristics, was his perfect sincerity. The expressive origin of this word comes from two Latin words which signify “without wax,” pure honey; that is the thought that comes to me in regard to my dear friend’s life. Surrounded by the dissipating and clouding influence of life, I never saw, in the thirty-five years of our friendship, the least wavering from that high and pure purpose, from that sincere life which characterized him from the very first. To all this sincerity and purity of purpose, bearing the mark of the noble chevalier, “without fear and without reproach,” he added courage, persistency, hidden but indomitable, planted in his life, and enduring even when the unfortunate hand of illness was laid upon him.

We keenly feel the loss of his earthly presence, counsel and friendship here, but our thought enlarges to something of the measure of his new experience, as we say with reverent joy:

“And doubtless unto thee is given
A life that bears immortal fruit,
In such great offices as suit
The full-grown energies of heaven.”
After the sun has set beyond the high mountains, as shadows gather in the valleys, we look up to the summits and behold the wondrous glow that shines and burns on the far heights, departing day transfigured in glorious color.

I wish to pay a special tribute to Vasken’s angelic wife, Meline, whose immeasurable love, compassionate spirit, faithfulness, and incredible service made the structures of this noble family indestructible. She advised justly, assisted readily, adventured boldly, took all patiently and loved and cared unconditionally.

Vasken adored his children and grandchildren. He was mighty proud of their accomplishments. They will certainly carry his torch as well as his legacy to successive generations. Our condolences to Vasken’s beloved wife Meline; their children: Dr. and Mrs. Paul and Virginia and their sons Christian and Paul; Dr. and Mrs. Haig and Ani and their children, Vasken, Lisa and Ara; their daughter, Eileen, and to his siblings and khnamis.

The marble shaft over his grave may crumble to earth, but the influence of his good deeds will continue to enrich our lives like the waves of the mighty ocean.

The bells of Urfa’s Armenian churches and Orange County’s Forty Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church gratefully toll today in honor of your triumphant life. Countless students from Jerusalem to Lebanon and the United States bid farewell to you, students whom you haven’t even met personally but whose lives you have touched profoundly.

Instead of mourning, let us celebrate the victorious life of our friend. Let us look up and address him in the words of the poet:

Thy day has come, not gone: The sun has risen, not set:
Thy life is now beyond the reach of death or change,
Not ended – but begun.
O, noble soul! O, gentle heart!


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