Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Charles Mosesian Dies, 97

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WATERTOWN, Mass. — Entrepreneur and philanthropist Charles Mosesian died on July 27, at his home here. He was 97.

He was born in Kharpert, Turkey, on October 11, 1912, to Krikor and Anna (Kurkjian) Movsesian. The family managed to survive the Armenian Genocide.

Mosesian married Dorothy Sooserian in 1940 and the couple had two daughters, Charleen and Elaine.

Mosesian came with his family to America when he was 16. Within a few years he opened Euphrates Bakery, named for the beloved river of his homeland, in Watertown, where he made traditional Armenian bread.

Historically this large, round, flatbread with sesame seeds was baked in clay ovens or in the earth. Mosesian both designed and built the sophisticated modern conveyor belt equipment necessary to mass produce the bread. His hands-on approach to marketing had him delivering bread door to door in predominantly Armenian neighborhoods. The business expanded to fill the breadbaskets of upscale restaurants around New England. Eventually, he created a small cracker that he called Euphrates Waferettes, sold in supermarkets.

The demand for the Waferettes became so great that Burry Biscuit Co. of Canada bought the rights to produce them in the late 1950s.

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He also produced a frozen pizza using a flashfreezing device and sold that company as well.

In the 1960s, with others from the Watertown business community, Mosesian started the Coolidge Bank and Trust, the first bank chartered in Massachusetts to give free checking accounts.

From his banking experience in lending to real estate developers, he moved on to condominium development. He built the first high-rise condominium in Watertown and eventually built more than 800 units of housing.

Philanthropy was always a large part of Mosesian’s life. He established the Charles Mosesian Family Foundation and through the years supported numerous schools and organizations. In 2000, Mosesian gave the lead donation to start the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown. The 384-seat Charles Mosesian Theater was named in his honor, becoming the permanent home of the New Repertory Theater.

In 2009, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern), presented Mosesian with an encyclical and the medal of St. Gregory the Illuminator from Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, for his contributions to St. James Armenian Church. Mosesian also supported the Armenian Heritage Park on the Greenway in Boston and was a life member of the Armenian Assembly of America.

Mosesian was pre-deceased by his wife, Dorothy. He leaves his daughters,  Elaine Mosesian of Boston and Charleen and her husband Peter Onanian, of Weston; his granddaughter, Charleen Onanian Janian and her husband Mark Janian, of South Natick; his great-granddaughter Sabrina Janian; his sister, Mabel Depoian of North Hollywood, Calif. and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Gasper Mosesian of Belmont, Mass.

The burial will be private. On Thursday, August 12, at noon, there will be a memorial service at the St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, followed by a Celebration of Life at the Charles Mosesian Youth and Cultural Center directly next to the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mt. Auburn St.,Watertown MA, 02472, The Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., Watertown, MA or the Armenian Assembly of America, Washington, DC, 1334 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20005.

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