YEREVAN — Armenian businessman and benefactor Vahakn Hovnanian died on August 31 at age 83, the Hovnanian International announced.
Vahakn Stephan Hovnanian was a successful businessman, real estate developer and philanthropist. His companies have developed more than 5,000 homes and several commercial properties throughout the United States.
In 1959 Hovnanian and his brothers founded the Hovnanian Brothers Corporation. Together, they developed thousands of homes in New Jersey, until going their separate ways 10 years later. In 1969, Hovnanian organized his own real estate development company, Hovbilt, Inc., which in the ensuing years has developed many successful and award-winning residential communities. With growth came diversification and the formation of several affiliated companies under the name of V.S. Hovnanian Group, Inc. which included Adelphia Water Company, Adelphia Sewer Company, Hovnanian Realty, Clear Title Agency and Grandview Cable. In 1985, Vahak and his son Shant pioneered a multi-faceted broadband telecommunications company by establishing CellularVision, Inc., which has become later SpeedUS, Inc.
A lover of “all things Armenian,” Hovnanian dedicated himself to supporting and preserving Armenian culture and heritage, and revitalizing the independent Republic of Armenia. Hovnanian together with his wife Hasmig played a prominent role in promoting educational, religious and cultural needs of the Armenian community in the United States. The couple has also been heavily involved in charity work.
During the 1960s, he served as the president of the Board of Trustees for St. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church in Ridgefield, NJ. He initiated the celebration of Armenian holidays on their precise day rather than on the closest Sunday, designating St. Vartanantz one of the first Armenian churches in the United States to follow this tradition.
In 1969 Vahak and Hasmig Hovnanian were honored for their efforts with a Knighthood in the Order of the Great House of Cilicia and as a Lady of the Great House of Cilicia respectively, by Khoren I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. In further service to the Armenian Church, he served as an executive Member of the Board of Directors for the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America from 1973-1977. During that period he also served as a US National Delegate to the World Council of the Armenian Church’s Cilician Catholicosate in Lebanon.