GLENDALE—The Armenian Cultural Foundation is set to unveil the Jacob Ourfali Trust Fund, created by the late physician’s family in his memory following his untimely passing on October 14. The announcement will be made during a gala banquet marking the 120th anniversary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, which will be held on Sunday, December 5 at the Beverly Hilton.
Funeral services for Dr. Ourfali were held on Saturday, October 22 and Mass was held on November 27 for the 40th day memorial.
Dr. Jacob Ourfali was born on December 3, 1948 in Beirut, Lebanon. He was the second child of Joseph and Hermine Ourfali, who left Palestine as a consequence of World War II and made their home in Lebanon.
Some time later and due to work considerations the Ourfalis moved to Jordan, where Jacob attended the local Armenian school and later completed his studies at the Amman State High School.
1968 was a fortuitous year for Jacob. He received word that he was accepted into the Yerevan Medical University. So, the 18-year-old Jacob moved to Armenia to complete his studies.
In the shadow of Mount Ararat and on the soil of his homeland, he worked hard and received his medical degree, with high honors. He moved to the United States to complete his doctorate degree and finished his residency in Gary, Indiana.
In 1984 he became a Medical Doctor specializing in family medicine and set-up his practice in Los Angeles.
That same year, Jacob met his life partner, Verona Meliksetian, with whom he married and created his traditional Armenian family. The Ourfalis were blessed with three children, Jayna, Raffi and Cindy, who became the light of Jacob and Verona’s life.
Jacob was of the second generation of Genocide survivors, who as a result of the great calamity were forced to rebuild their lives from scratch, through determination and belief in God as only Armenians can.
Jacob’s family was poor and lacked resources, so the late Jacob was forced to work and study at a very early age. At the young age of 10 he worked with his father and uncle, who were cobblers. Then he worked in the printing field and later as a jeweler and then at a photography studio.
Before graduating high school, Jacob was already an accomplished photographer and was able to make a living and also support his family.
Despite the dire financial condition of the Ourfali family, Jacob’s mother, Hermine, always insisted and encouraged Jacob to continue his studies and become a doctor. Heeding his mother’s encouraging words, Jacob applied and was accepted to the Yerevan Medical University and arrived in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, with $10 in his pocket. This is when Jacob starts wrestling with life’s realities and strives to better himself through hard work and perseverance to reach his goals.
It wouldn’t be fair to describe Jacob as just a doctor. He was more than. First and foremost he was a human being—in capital letters. He had an eternal love for his family, his friends and acquaintances, and more importantly for his homeland, the Armenian language, culture and the Armenian Church.
Jacob firmly believed that it was better to give that to receive and therefore his door was open to all, without exception, be they a political office holder, the Catholicos or a poor worker; be they a colleague or a stranger.
It is difficult to describe the manner in which he treated people, young and old. His heart was filled with love for all.
Jacob’s commitment to his nation and the church was evident from a young age when he became a cub scout and a boy scout, and as an adult he was a national delegate representing the Pasadena Armenian Apostolic Church and later a member of the Western Prelacy Executive Council and constant and generous supporter of community organizations and institutions.
During the worst days of the Nagorno-Karabakh liberation struggle, Dr. Jacob Ourfali spared nothing to morally and financially assist the heroic people of Artsakh, and continued his contribution until his untimely death. He and his wife, Verona, became active members of the Armenian National Committee where they gave their utmost to ensure the success and advancement of the Armenian Cause.
For Jacob, his homeland, Armenia was a sacred altar to which he bowed and dedicated himself.
Jacob was a staunch supporter of Armenian culture and he often sponsored cultural events and projects. In 1999, through his leadership and dedicated work, the Yerevan Medical University was able to have a modern library on the occasion of the school’s 70th anniversary.
As a physician, Jacob became one of the first Armenian doctors to become Board Certified and later he deservedly became the chairman of the well-renowned Hollywood Presbyterian and St. Joseph hospitals.
Jacob Ourfali was dedicated to his field and his specialty. Hundreds of people can attest to the level of care they have received from the late doctor. For many years, Dr. Ourfali had designated Wednesdays as the day when he would treat patients free of charge, providing care and medical attention to a wide-spectrum of people and earning their respect and love.
For 50 years Jacob worked relentlessly, without once thinking about his comfort or taking vacations. He had decided that in 2011 he would lighten his workload and take his family to visit Amman, Jordan to show his children the place of his humble beginnings and the place that provided him the impetus to flourish and success. Unfortunately, his untimely death put an end to those plans and dreams.
His death will undoubtedly be mourned by his family, his brothers and sisters, his relatives, friends, colleagues, patients—everyone. His passing is a big loss for the Armenian community of which Dr. Jacob Ourfali was a venerable member.