BY DONIG L. DONABEDIAN
It is often the premise that the search for a diamond in the rough could lead to a back breaking experience. Let me rephrase that. ”It is a back breaking experience.” In this world of ours, the constant exploration to find anything that predates human interest in anything of value has often been the vehicle that has led many to irreparable physical punishment, and many times, to their death. From skeletal remains of massive animals that roamed the planet, to the pursuit of the most unique of gems, to the outlandish fixation we have, and the subsequent embarking on the near impossible journey, to locate the one thing that drives humanity to the edge of insanity, the “Holy Grail.”
The human interest story is one that almost always points to tribal instincts. It is the deep desire to belong somewhere, to something, to someone. It’s been the staple of human existence. The quest for a human being to interact with another human being, in many ways similar to himself, but also dissimilar in many others, has been the human condition that has ultimately rendered each of us unique. From time to time we find among us a person slightly more distinguished, a human being we aspire to emulate—a “diamond in the rough.”
Fortunately for us in the Armenian community, Homenetmen has been an organization that seems to have had the kind of pull that has encouraged many to adopt it and make it part of their fabric as you would a piece of clothing that you wear to protect you from exposure to the elements. Homenetmen has become a sanctuary that prepares many from their youth to weather the capricious winds outside its secure confines. It has, therefore, been a beacon of prominence, a beacon that led many to gravitate towards it, harness its message, and apply that knowledge later in adulthood.
For decades that kind of sustained power has been the foundation from which many unique leaders were born, some more unique than others. That’s where Roubik Gourjian comes in, this year’s “Exemplary Homenetmen” member.
Born in Kermanshah, Iran, in 1942, Roubik Gourjianbegan began his education at the Davitian National School in Tehran at the age of 10, and there he joined Ararat’s Athletic and Cultural Organization. Roubik Gourjian continued his membership with Ararat throughout his youth and into his adulthood; He endeared himself to the youth of Ararat by being a progressive thinker, encouraging and nurturing them, thereby gaining their love and respect. His influence was so great that the youth of Ararat immensely admired him and felt extraordinarily close to him. His unique character led to his rise in rank to become part of the Central Committee and remained there until his departure from Iran to the United States in 1976. In the interim, Gourjian earned his degree in Armenian Studies with honors at Esfahan University and continued his higher education at Tehran’s top Accounting School. In addition to all that he had accomplished, Gourjian served in the Iranian Military as well. Once Stateside, Roubik Gourjian and his young family settled in Glendale, California, in a house that to this date he calls home. Being the active person that he is, Roubik Gourjian was one of eight people that founded what became known as, the Glendale “Ararat” Chapter on December 15, 1978. He’s been a member at Ararat ever since.
Roubik spent six years as Homenetmen Ararat’s Chairman, and from there he was elected to Homenetmen’s Western United States Regional Committee, where he spent four years in the 1980’s. Among the many accolades he commands, Roubik was in the Regional Council of Saint Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church’s Board of Trustees in Glendale, as well as the Davitian And Mariamian Educational Foundation committee for 17 years. This was a foundation for the Armenian Students in Public Schools (CAPS) in Southern California which dealt with the Armenian students’ educational, emotional and behavioral issues.
Married at the age of 24, Gourjian and his esteemed wife Dzaghik have been blessed with two boys, Mher and Sebouh, who have been Homenetmen Ararat members since its inception in 1978. Now 44 and married to Katherine Sarafian, a member at Homenetmen San Francisco, Mher and Katherine have been blessed with a son, Avedis, meanwhile Gourjian’s younger son Sebouh resides in Florida.
In retrospect, Roubik Gourjian’s life has been one adventure after another to say the least. His demeanor, impeccable, suggests that he is a man who has carried himself with tremendous dignity, honor and humility throughout his life. His achievements as an Armenian can only bring pride to us all as Armenians and make us applaud his spirit that has done volumes to raise our reputations as Armenians. Upon reflection, a “Diamond In The Rough” he is, and as a Homenetmen member, did in fact, “Elevate Himself and All of Us!