Edgar Hagopian Feted as ‘Man of the Year’ by Detroit ADL and TCA Chapters


By Betty Apigian Kessel

DETROIT — The Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADL) and Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) on Saturday, February 19, went all out in its effort to show longtime community leader and activist, Edgar Hagopian, their acknowledgment and appreciation for his many years of devotion to world-wide Armenian communities.

How do you say “thank you” to a man who represents every demonstrative characteristic of charity, nobility, humility and deep love for America as well as for the country of his ancestry, Armenia?

The invitation to pay tribute to Hagopian’s life was extended to all elements of the Metro-Detroit Armenian community. Representing their respective communities were Rev. Daron Stepanian of the Prelacy St. Sarkis Armenian Church, Monsignor Andon Atamian of St. Vartan Armenian Catholic Church and Rev. Makarios Darawi of the Armenian Congregational Church and members of their community.

We have all benefited from the efforts of the Hagopian family. That is just what it has become, a family effort led by the exemplary effort of both Edgar and wife Sarah Hagopian, the parents of Edmond, Suzanne and Angela Hagopian Snow who along with Kenneth Snow are an integral part in the Hagopian Family Foundation.

Suzanne Hagopian accompanied by her sister Angela Hagopian Snow read a letter from their father Edgar expressing his deep appreciation for the tribute and his regret for not being able to attend because of illness.

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His letter explained the importance of the arts in the community and how they influenced Hagopian, while also paying tribute to organizations like the TCA. Hagopian attended Detroit’s famed Cass Tech High School and has had deep involvement with the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Center For Creative Studies and the Troy Design Center, where he has a showroom.

His 10,000-square-foot Birmingham Hagopian World of Rugs and Cleaning Services showroom, one of several, is a stand out in a profession where magnificent Oriental rugs are prominently displayed in oversized windows.

Among many of Hagopian’s very important endeavors is an annual essay contest for area high schools on the subject of genocide and winners are awarded cash prizes given at the April 24, commemoration. Its goal is to bring awareness of the Armenian Genocide as well as the Holocaust.

His show room hosts author book signings and lectures followed with refreshments. When asked if he is not concerned about guests roaming amongst his fabulous expensive rugs with food and drink, he just shrugs and says “No,” another indicator of the importance he feels to bring people together under any circumstance.

He has hosted authors Tom Mooradian, Peter Balakian, George Mooradian, Mitch Kehetian and Kemal Yalçin among many others. Once a month on Friday evenings the showroom is filled with music lovers listening to live performance of area classical musicians.

Edmond Azadian, in presenting a plaque to Suzanne Hagopian and Angela Hagopian Snow in honor of their father, had this to say: “Edgar Hagopian is a man of distinction and a legend in his own day. The time has come for us to pay tribute to a person who has given so much of himself to the Detroit- Armenian community, raising our profile on the national map.

“He is with us and our prayers are with him, well represented by his daughters. Edgar Hagopian stands among other generous men who have contributed admirably to Detroit’s reputation. His generosity matches his wisdom and leadership skills. He is a political activist, benefactor, humanitarian and cultural icon, humble, knowing how to be on a level with everyone, standing tall. He projects the Armenian profile throughout the political scene in Michigan and beyond.”

Hagopian is a man of his word, nor does he mince them. For all his contributions, generosity and leadership we have today only a simple moment to present to him a symbol that says it all — our purest love, warmest respect and heartfelt wishes.

The celebration for “The Man of the Year” Edgar Hagopian was in the beautiful Cultural Hall of the Diocese’s St. John’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Southfield.

Those who have visited our area know this elegant hall adjoining the church comprises just one part of the complex serving the Armenian community. It is the signature gold-dome, a landmark piece of architecture harking back to cathedrals of ancient Armenia.

It was the perfect setting for Hagopian’s event, a man who should be called a prince among men. He would never approve of that title because Edgar Hagopian, unlike those who have become successful in business, remains an influential individual without actually wielding his power like an authoritarian. He does it with calm reason, not with a sword.

He is a visionary, whose biggest dream is to bridge the Armenian community in his lifetime, bring it closer together in the goal of unity.

From left, Ovsep Sarafian, Rose Mooradian, E. Megerian, Nadya Sarafian, George Mooradian and Edmond Meger

The TCA and the ADL, plus their 175 guests, certainly paid tribute to Hagopian in the grand fashion which showed their love for this community leader.

The ambience of dimmed shimmering crystal chandeliers, white-linen-clad tables centered with tea lights and vases filled with branches creatively trimmed with sweets, was just the beginning of the pampering guests experienced all evening. An attentive wait staff served an especially thought-out, six- course menu featuring Armenian and international foods.

Fabulous dessert cakes were provided by Mr. and Mrs. Hassan Bahceli.

In the printed program forward, TCA Banquet Chairperson (as well as TCA chairwoman) Nora Azadian extended “a warm welcome to esteemed guests helping Armenia to survive by their attendance.” She stated the TCA’s project is education, sponsoring four schools in Armenia and one in Karabagh under the “Sponsor a Teacher” program, thus far providing $400,000 in total grants, including funds to deserving orphans to enroll in colleges or universities of higher learning.

Mistress of ceremonies, Diana Alexanian, graciously welcomed guests, thanking them for making the evening such a success. She followed by stating that The Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) was founded in 1947 and was named after the famous Armenian poet Vahan Tekeyan. “The group operates in 17 countries with its beginnings in the USA and has chapters worldwide. We support Armenian cultural and social centers, schools, weekly newspapers, radio and TV programs.”

Alexanian invited Darawi to bless the dinner. In his comments, Darawi acknowledged Hagopian’s many contributions and support of all Armenians and to him sent a special blessing of comfort and love.

A touch of class: strolling virtuoso violinist Henrik Karapetian provided background music for dining enjoyment.

An added attraction was the coffee cup reading by Vartoug Karadolian. A private booth was provided for those seeking to have their fortune read. She was a popular addition to an already successful event.

Lively, after-dinner dancing music was provided by popular, area violinist Harry Hovagimian and vocalist Marina.

It takes a lot of people to organize and pull off a successful event of this capacity. Mentioning just a few: program chairperson and ADL chairman, Hagop (Captain) Alexanian; Ara Belian, banquet chairperson. Special thanks should be given to the Gourmet Dinner Committee: Yeretzgin Roberta Kochakian, Dr. Nadya Sarafian, Nadya Vaporciyan, Zabel Belian, Marina Arakchyan and Nora Azadian. Karen Koundakjian masterfully fulfilled her role in the daunting task of maneuvering table reservations.

It’s true, just as Hagopian says in his trademark TV commercials, “Hagopian: to know us is to love us.” It is a family affair with all the family being involved in the business.

An evening of fashion stand outs knowing you can’t go wrong wearing black: youthful Zabel Belian in a smashing one piece black halter top gown, Shirley Sarkisian in a black suit trimmed with white and her signature big tortoise rimmed glasses, Diana Alexanian outstanding in a black pant suit with a touch of white looking glamorous with her perfectly coiffed silver-white hair, but again the show stealer for the money was the TCA matriarch Nora Azadian donning the design of a former painting artist student of hers, a Shant original, floor-length caftan, a black silhouette with side inserts of artfully cut colorful fabric inserts and gorgeous Egyptian jewelry, worthy of the Cairo Museum.

To their credit, all the men looked splendid in their suits and ties, a perfect compliment to the ladies on their arm.

Both Suzanne Hagopian and Angela Hagopian Snow were radiant and elegantly attired in their duties for their beloved father. Each guest was warmly greeted by them proving again there is no substitute for “undanegan gertitioun,” a proper upbringing in the home.

All of us extend to Sarah and Edgar Hagopian our thanks for a life-time of community service, leading the way on how to be exemplary citizens worthy of the work ethic they inherited from their immigrant parents in their love for their adopted home in America and their absolute love for all things Armenians.

Nothing more can be asked from any human being.

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