By Hagop Vartivarian

NEW YORK — Alexander Ara Dadourian was an offspring of the celebrated Dadourian family. Born on April 14, 1933, in Brooklyn, he was the son of Armenian benefactor Dadour Dadourian and his wife Elise. He grew up with his three brothers, Haig, Thomas and Peter, in Forest Hills, a neighborhood of the borough of Queens in New York City. In 1961, he married Virginia Demirjian of Providence, Rhode Island, and in 1966 the couple move to Manhasset, Long Island, where they had five children, Lynn, Stephen, Gregory, Elise, and Alexandra. Alexander thus created a large family, which is something unusual for current American mores. This was a gift for Armenians, enriching their ranks with his five children.

A graduate of Blair Academy, Alex Dadourian went on to graduate from New York University’s Stern School of Business. After serving two years in the US army, he returned to join his father’s manufacturing business. Later he assumed the responsibility for the family’s real estate operations in New York City, where together with his brother Haig, he achieved remarkable commercial success, especially in the expensive neighborhoods of Manhattan.

His unreserved participation and interest in the Church of Armenia never flagged from adolescence onwards. He became a permanent presence in both New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral, the headquarters of the Armenian Diocese, as well as in his parish church, Bayside’s Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs. He tried to introduce conditions acceptable for the new generation of Armenian-Americans in the church without growing distant from our traditions.

He became a part of the Gullabi Gulbenkian Foundation and was always a close friend and colleague of its president, Edward Gulbenkian.

He visited Aleppo’s Gulbenkian Maternity Hospital to become informed about the state of its finances and the conditions of medical care there. He sharpened his focus as an Armenian dedicated to education greatly after the independence of Armenia, and he provided help to 27 schools and educational centers in Armenia.

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Of our many meetings, I still remember one in particular, when Edward and Alex invited me to a well-known New York restaurant in order to hear my opinions on various aspects of Armenian community life. On that day, I had advised them to enter into close relations with the Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon, Portugal, and in particular with the then-director of the Armenian division of the foundation, Zaven Yegavian, in order to work together for the benefit of the Aleppo Armenian community. Yegavian would frequently visit his birthplace of Aleppo to carry out various educational programs and publication projects. Therefore he certainly could be more than helpful about the daily work of the maternity hospital, especially as it was difficult for the Gullabi Gulbenkian Foundation in New York to follow from such a great distance the hospital’s activities.

Alex welcomed this idea and Edward agreed. Several years ago I accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Edward Gulbenkian and visited Aleppo. The civil war had newly begun in Syria. On Alex’s suggestion, we met with the board of trustees, the medical staff and the administration. These were difficult days, and we were forced to temporarily close the maternity hospital. We reopened it during the most critical moment of the civil war, and received our seniors from the Aleppo Armenian old age home.

Alex and Edward were happy that at least this philanthropic institution was serving a good purpose, though its future remained uncertain at best, as is the case for all our Armenian communal properties.

Alex was present last year at the commemoration of my 45 years of Armenian public service, and asked that I continue my service. We would both be present at ceremonies at the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School, in order to encourage the only Armenian school we have in New York.

On March 7, 2015 Alex died, and his funeral services were carried out at the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs.

He believed in a large Armenian family, and he was blessed with 15 grandchildren.

It would be fitting if his family planned a permanent philanthropic monument in Alex’s memory. For example, they could open a school or a club for the youth in this great metropolis of New York.

The New York Armenian community has lost a virtuous Armenian.

 

(Translated from the Armenian)