ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. – Philanthropist Artemis Nazarian passed away on April 9 at the age of 88 as a result of complications from coronavirus infection. She was well known to Armenians throughout the world as a modest yet unwavering supporter, together with her husband, Nazar Nazarian, of a variety of Armenian institutions.
Born in Aleppo, Syria in 1932 as Artemis Topjian, she came with her family to Boston at the age of 2. She learned Armenian at the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADL) building in Watertown. Her maternal uncle Garabed (Charlie) H. Sulahian was an important leader of the ADL and chairman of its District Committee of the US and Canada for many years.
As was her Armenian patriotism, her dedication to the Armenian Church was inculcated by her family. She had five clergymen in her family, including former Jerusalem Patriarch-Elect and Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan.
She attended Boston University on a full scholarship and graduated cum laude, becoming the first woman graduate of the College of Business Administration in accounting. She began working at the firm of Haskins and Sells. In 1954, she married Nazar Nazarian, who continued in the footsteps of his father, Levon, as a successful businessman and philanthropist. She in turn became the accountant for her husband’s businesses and they set up their home in the New York area.
The couple had two children, Levon and Seta. In addition to being a devoted mother, Artemis was an accomplished pianist and a knitter whose creations won various awards. She was known as a warm and friendly person who loved to tell jokes and stories.
Together, Artemis and Nazar Nazarian played a critical role in supporting so many Armenian institutions throughout the world. The list starts with the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, which they unwaveringly championed over the decades, and goes on to include many individual Armenian churches, schools, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), and Armenian cultural organizations. The two of them were an unshakeable pillar during times of crisis, and their philanthropy has saved many lives while improving others.