OC Armenian Center Is Renamed ‘Harut Barsamian Armenian Center’

SANTA ANA–On May 28, Prof. Harut Barsamian had announced his promise to pay off the Orange County Armenian Center’s mortgage. After a couple of days, he donated 210 thousand dollars and on Vartivar (Transfiguration) Day, June 29, he and his wife Tamar took down the cover of the renamed sign to reveal his name at the center.

Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian accompanied by Very Rev. Barthev Gulumian and Rev. Hrant Yeretsian, presided over the renaming ceremony held at the entrance of the center. The Prelate who blessed the benefactors and those in attendance, had originally blessed the center during the groundbreaking and opening ceremonies.

Following the renaming ceremony, a reception was held at Ghazarian Hall. ARF Armen Karo Gomideh chair Dikran Sassounian invited the guests to follow Prof. Barsamian’s lead in opening the Champaign bottles and cheer the donor. Armineh Bogharian, the donor’s sister, and other relatives and friends joined in the congratulations on the occasion.

Later, Sassounian explained that since Barsamian had donated his Apple Corporation shares, the table centerpieces were apples. He thanked all the donors and supporters for their efforts to build and sustain the center.

Dr. Garo Agopian presented the biography of the donor, expressing his admiration towards him as a someone who is a devoted Armenian. Barsamian was born in Syria, and attended the Nshan Palanjian Jemaran until 1946, when he emigrated to Armenia. He was the best High School student in the country and went on to attend the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute as an electrical/computer engineering student, and eventually lectured there. The communists jailed his father for five years, and he was sent to a Siberian town for a few months. He holds U.S. Patents on shoe making, since his family survived by making shoes and selling them in Tbilisi (Georgia). In 1966, he immigrated to the U.S. through is uncle’s efforts and taught himself technical English words from a dictionary, and before he knew English, within weeks, he found employment in Detroit. Twenty years ago, he started teaching at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and he is currently semi-retired. Agopian noted that he had read Barsamian’s life story in his autobiography, which will be published soon and the book dedication will be held at the center.

The audience gave Prof. Barsamian a standing ovation as he approached to speak. He talked about life, struggles, keeping our heritage, and leaving a legacy to the new generations in such an amusing way that the audience was constantly laughing. One of his funny commen’s was that Agopian had told so much of his story, that he was afraid that no one would buy his book. He also noted the role of women, particularly Salpi Agopian, who had a convincing role in making his donation decision.

He explained that he has been part of the Orange County Armenian community since 1976, when it was still growing, and he had a desire to do his part, especially to help the youth keep their heritage through the Armenian Center. He recalled the words of his mother and grandmother who had taught him their views about life and legacy, and it was his turn to explain his views ‘s the principle of an enduring heritage based on bestowing a legacy to the benefit of the new generation.

The ARF Central Committee representative, Karekin Khanjian, thanked the benefactors for their dedication and service to the community and wished them good health, a long life and success in their endeavors. He was happy that the building has a worthy name and with the payoff of the mortgage instead of spending time on making mortgage paymen’s, we can devote to the benefit of the next generation.

The mortgage burning followed, with Prof. Harut Barsamian, his wife, Tamar, Karekin Khanjian, Garo Agopian and Dikran Sasounian.

The next event in Orange County will benefit the ANC office. Mr. & Mrs. Garbis Karamardian will host the event at their restaurant, Zov’s Bistro, on August 3, 2008, at 5 pm.

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