NAASR Founding Chairman Manoog Young Dies

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BELMONT, Mass. — Manoog Soghomon Young of Belmont, the founding chairman of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) and its chairman until 2001, died on Tuesday, July 3, at the age of 94.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years Barbara (Johnson) Young, children Armen Young of Littleton, Mass., and Adrina Young Gobbi of North Billerica, Mass., and grandchildren Jake and Mariah Gobbi and Christopher and Lauren Young.

Prof. Gerard J. Libaridian has aptly called Young “the father of the Armenian Studies movement,” and this begins to give a sense of Young’s role in ushering into existence the field of Armenian Studies in America and his half-century working to advance it. One of the founders of NAASR, which led the effort in the 1950s and 1960s to establish permanent programs in Armenian Studies at American institutions of higher learning, starting with Harvard University, Young served as chairman of the Board of Directors from its inception in 1955 until 2001. During these decades both NAASR and the field of Armenian Studies continued to evolve and expand.

After stepping down as chairman, Young remained on the NAASR Board and maintained a keen interest in the development of the organization he had led and the field he helped bring into being. On the occasion of his 90th birthday in 2007, he stated that the Armenian community must take pride in the creation and advancement of Armenian Studies, “because you are responsible for it. I was one small cog in the whole thing. I’d like to be here a hundred years from now and see all that has transpired.”

His successor as NAASR chairman, Nancy R. Kolligian, remarked that “the Armenian community, not only in this country, but worldwide, will always be indebted to Manoog Young as the driving force behind the creation of an organization in the US that was essential in order to promote our rich Armenian culture and history. He and his colleagues worked tirelessly to advance this virtually non-existent field at the university level and the first chair in Armenian Studies was established [at Harvard] in 1959, a mere four years after the establishment of NAASR. That achievement would not have been possible were it not for the vision and endless devotion and energy of Manoog S. Young.”

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Current Chairman Raffi P. Yeghiayan stated, “Manoog Young guided the development of Armenian Studies with the highest academic standards and instigated the establishment of a multitude of endowed chairs at top universities. The Armenian community in the United States, and indeed worldwide, owes a great debt of gratitude to Manoog for the advancement of Armenian Studies. The achievements he accomplished are ongoing and will continue to

flourish, a testimonial to his legacy.” James R. Russell, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard since 1992, commenting on Young’s “long life of extraordinary and visionary labor in the service of the Armenian people and of human scholarship,” observed that “it is not just that we have him to thank for the very existence of university chairs in Armenian studies in this country. He is a part of American-Armenian history itself, and as it’s now almost a hundred years on from the Genocide and dispersion, the history of Armenians in this country is a very important part of Armenian history.”

Margot Stern Strom, co-founder and executive director of Facing History and Ourselves, of which Young was a longtime Board of Trustees member, cited Young’s lasting impact on that organization: “He was an unsung hero for me and for Facing History and Ourselves. His deep commitment to preserving the history and legacy of the Armenian Genocide for future generations was inspiring and a critical part of Facing History’s work.”

Young was born in Boston, in 1917, to Soghomon and Aghavni Malyemezian Young. Both parents were born in Kharpert, in the Ottoman Empire and emigrated to the US prior to the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Young was raised in Boston’s South End. He received a BS in mathematics and physics from Northeastern University and a MA in history and international relations from Clark University, where he wrote a thesis, titled “Russia and the Armenians, 1700-1923: Growth of Russian Interest in Armenia, its Character and its Relation to the Straits Question.” He also took courses at MIT, Boston University and the London School of Economics. During World War II, Young served in the 8th and 9th Air Forces in Europe.

Young taught physics and applied mechanics at the University of Massachusetts; taught inter- national relations at Northeastern University and history and government at Brookline High School. In the early 1950s, he worked as an editorial assistant at the Armenian Mirror- Spectator newspaper. He served as business manager and bursar at the Franklin Institute in Boston for more than 27 years.

Affiliations and Many Honors

Young’s many affiliations include the follow- ing: founding member, chairman of the Board of Directors and honorary life member, NAASR; member, Board of Trustees, Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation; Honorary Board member, Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association; chairman, AGBU Elementary School Board, Watertown; chairman, American Veterans Committee Council of Massachusetts; founding chairman, London School of Economics Foundation of America; co-chairman, United Armenian Observance Committee of Greater Boston for the 55th and 60th Anniversaries of the Armenian Genocide; member, Armenian Students’ Association of Americamember, Society for Armenian Studies.

Among the many honors bestowed upon Young are the St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Medal from Catholicos of All Armenians Vazken I, for outstanding service to the Armenian Community and Leadership in Promoting Armenian Studies (1986) and the Arthur H. Dadian Armenian Heritage Award given by the Armenian Students’ Association in “recognition of his outstanding contribution to the preservation of the rich Armenian heritage.”

Funeral services were Tuesday, July 10, at St. James Armenian Church, Watertown. Expressions of sympathy may be made in his memory to St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, MA, 02472, or NAASR, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA, 02478.

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