BOSTON (Boston Globe) — Soft-spoken and discreet, impeccably dressed on the job and off, Norman Pashoian opened the door of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel to politicians and powerbrokers, actors and musicians, Brahmins and those buoyed by fortunes of a more recent vintage.
He greeted visitors for 66 years, steadfast at his post as the Ritz became the Taj, until he retired at 85. Along the way, he unobtrusively became Boston’s most famous doorman and a Back Bay institution. “I just do my job, try to be polite, and never — well, almost never — get into arguments with guests,” he said quietly in 1997, his 50th anniversary at work, as he stood in one of the city’s most elegant entryways.
Pashoian was 89 when he died May 26 in Melrose-Wakefield Hospital of complications from congestive heart failure. His affinity for continuity was as apparent at home as it was at work. He held one job his whole adult life. And except for a brief stint in the Army, he lived in Malden his entire life.
The list of those with whom he exchanged small talk could fill a set of encyclopedias. He greeted Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, fresh from the baseball diamond. Joseph Kennedy Sr. and his son John F. Kennedy passed through the door Pashoian held open, planning campaigns, perhaps. He welcomed the musical collaborators Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, too, and stepped nimbly aside when movie star Gene Autry rode his horse into the lobby. During a visit by Elizabeth Taylor, he carried her two dozen bags inside.
Pashoian had his favorites, of course — chief among them his hero, Winston Churchill, who stayed at the Ritz in 1949 while in town to deliver a speech. He watched Churchill stand on the steps of a dining room staircase, flashing a V for victory with one hand, and clasping a cigar with the other. “Here I was, just in my early 20s, and I was seeing someone as famous as Churchill,” Pashoian told the Globe in 2013, on his last day as a doorman. “I was amazed.”