BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
The Armenian community and the Asbarez family lost a truly dedicated activist, advocate and supporter with the passing of Nazareth Kevonian.
His daughter Tamar broke the sad news that her father passed away in a telephone call on Monday, giving me pause but also an opportunity to reflect on the qualities that made Nazareth a true patriot.
I have known Nazareth for more than two decades. He would visit the Asbarez offices frequently, usually following a trip to Armenia or when there was something new to impart about his beloved Land and Culture Organization. Nazareth believed that LCO’s mission of gathering Diaspora youth and engaging them in rebuilding Armenian cultural landmarks—important reflection of our national heritage—was an critical way to connect young generations to the homeland and the rich history of our Nation.
What was heartening for me was his unwavering and longstanding support for Asbarez, and the Armenian press in general. He was a staunch reader of not only our publication, but others. His visits to Asbarez always included thoughtful discussions about topics we had covered or the commentary we had published about current developments in Armenia and our community.
Our regular readers know that Nazareth was a long-time contributor to Asbarez. When I saw him last May at the La Crescenta Church, he approached me and said “it’s that time of the year.” Every year, around the beginning of summer for more than a decade, Nazareth and her daughter, Tamar, donated $10,000 to Asbarez, thus kicking off our newspaper’s anniversary celebrations.
At the time of the pandemic, when personal contact with friends was limited, I often kept in touch with him. During one telephone chat, Nazareth told me that for him the longevity and perseverance of Asbarez was important.
“For me it is important that Asbarez continues and prospers,” he told me, reiterating his conviction for the importance of Asbarez’s mission and the critical role that the Armenian press plays in our every-day lives.
“I am doing my part so that the Armenian press continues to prosper and becomes an important part of our schools and the community in general,” Nazareth added. “I like and read Asbarez because it’s very comprehensive and I like the variety of the issues it covers.”
Nazareth’s passion for the betterment of the Armenian community and advancement of our culture did not stop at Asbarez. He is know for his support of myriad organizations and causes in our community.
Over the years, Nazareth and his family have played an active role in the development of our community and have made contributions to the Armenian Cultural Foundation, Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, the Western Prelacy, the Tekeyan Cultural Association and the Nor Or newspaper to name a few.
The last time I saw Nazareth was on February 18 when we were both attending an event honoring Dr. Onnik and Kristine Keshishian at the Lark Musical Society. He was his usual cheerful self. When we parted ways that evening, he shook my hand and offered his words of encouragement and support, then said ցտեսութիւն—until we meet again.
I will remember that and the many other encounters that have humbled me and those who knew Nazareth.
With Nazareth’s passing, our community has lost a dedicated visionary and activist, whose belief in the power of the young generation has propelled and empowered many individuals and organization to realize their goals and mission. May his life serve as an example to all of us.
On behalf of the management of the Armenian Media Network, the editorial board and staff of Asbarez we offer our condolences to Nazareth Kevonian’s family. May he Rest in Peace.