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AGBU Mourns the Loss of Globally Beloved Philanthropist Artemis Nazarian

11.04.2020   22:05

The epitome of gracious and selfless generosity and a perpetual shining light in the Armenian world, Artemis Nazarian of New Jersey passed away on April 9th, succumbing to complications of coronavirus infection.

“No words can truly express our profound sorrow that our dear Artemis has been taken from us,” said Berge Setrakian, AGBU President. “Her passing floods our hearts and minds with so many emotions and cherished memories—not only on a personal level, but also what she represents collectively to our AGBU family. Alongside her husband, the great philanthropist and former AGBU Central Board member Nazar Nazarian, her generosity has somehow touched the life of practically every last Armenian—across communities, generations, continents, and in Armenia.”

Born in 1932 in Aleppo, Syria, Artemis (nee Topjian) could never have imagined the life of destiny she would live and the impact her tremendous heart, kind disposition, and can-do spirit would make on the lives of thousands, both worldwide and in her own community. She served on countless committees, church ladies’ guilds, and the local Englewood Women’s Club, among other civic and cultural endeavors. Her travels and adventures in pursuit of helping others supplied ample content with which to sustain her love of storytelling.

Arriving in America as a toddler, she was raised in Watertown, MA, graduated cum laude from Boston University with a degree in accounting, and met and married the would-be philanthropist Nazar Nazarian, originally from Lebanon, who was a pharmacist by education, and member of the family’s international textile company established in Beirut by his illustrious philanthropist father Levon Nazarian.

With the continued success of the family business in America and their passion to carry on the legacy of community service, the Nazarian couple became a transformative force for good that found its way into every corner and sector of Armenian community life—from the Armenian Church and AGBU schools, community centers and cultural pursuits to health centers of excellence and programs for youth, as well as for emergency humanitarian relief efforts around the world.

A patron of the arts and a firm believer in the power of education to transform lives, she supported numerous AGBU scholarships to students worldwide. What’s more, her special interest in children culminated in the opening of the Artemis Nazarian Preschool of the AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian school in Los Angeles.

Another lifelong devotion of hers was the Armenian Church. Her unwavering support of the Armenian Catholicisate in Etchmiadzin reflected on the Sulahian side of her maternal family tree, which according to her, boasted numerous clergy. Other family members were active in Armenian political organizations, influencing her sense of activism and community and interest in Armenian affairs.

From New York to Etchmiadzin, Beirut to Los Angeles, Buenos Aires to Aleppo, there is bound to be a plaque, eponymous building sign or photo showing Artemis beaming with pride at the opening of a center, school or health facility, surrounded by grateful beneficiaries, or humbly receiving public honors by church leaders, dignitaries and officials from a cross section of Armenian institutions.

“Her steadfast support of all things AGBU and Holy Etchmiadzin was eclipsed only by her dedication to Nazar and their children,” Setrakian went on to say, likening her to the muse to her husband, always finding projects and endeavors worthy of the family’s moral and financial support.

Her joy of giving back obviously set the example for her son Dr. Levon Nazarian and daughter Seta Nazarian, both of whom are active in the AGBU leadership as central board member and development advisor respectively, along with daughter-in-law Claudia Nazarian, current chair of multiple AGBU program committees, and William Nazarian, current chair of the AGBU Young Professionals of Greater New York and one of the Nazarians’ five grandchildren who include: William and his brother Nicholas, the sons of Seta Nazarian; and Matthew, Gregory, and Daniela, the sons and daughter of Levon and Claudia Nazarian.

Under these extraordinary circumstances and to bring comfort to the immediate family who must grieve in isolation without the presence of relatives and friends around them, AGBU has created a special website for the community to offer condolences and celebrate her life at rememberingartemis.com. In honor of her love of the arts and support of young talents, the family has requested in lieu of flower donations to be made to the AGBU Artemis Nazarian Memorial Scholarship for Performing Arts (agbu.org/artemisnazarian).

“While more traditional memorials and commemorations for her are sure to follow in the future, the life and times of Artemis Nazarian tell an inspiring story all their own in both AGBU and modern Armenian history,” Setrakian noted.

The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Artsakh and the Armenian diaspora.  Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching goal: to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians. To learn more visit www.agbu.org.

Artemis Topjian Nazarian (1932-2020)

Artemis and Nazar Nazarian

Artemis Nazarian with her loving family including her husband, Nazar, children Seta, Levon & Claudia, and grandchildren Willian, Matthew, Nicholas, Daniella and Gregory.

Media Inquiries:

AGBU Press Office

55 East 59th Street

New York, NY 10022-1112

Phone: 212.319.6383

Email: communications@agbu.org

Աջակցէ՛ ԶԱՐԹՕՆՔ-ին. Ապահովէ՛ Անոր Գոյերթը



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