Cafesjian was a businessman and philanthropist who founded the Cafesjian Family Foundation (CFF), the Cafesjian Museum Foundation (CMF) and the Cafesjian Center for the Arts.
He was born April 26, 1925 in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His parents had come to the United States preceding the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
After amphibious training, he served in the United States Navy in WWII aboard JP Morgan’s yacht, the Corsair III. The ship did extensive survey work in and around Guadalcanal and other Solomon Islands. He also served aboard the USS Andres (DE45), a destroyer escort for convoys from the United States to North Africa.
When he returned after the war he married Cleo Thomas, a nurse he had met during the war.
He earned a degree in economics from Hunter College, and a law degree from St. John’s University Law School.