By Stephen Kurkjian
BOSTON — Rouben Shougarian, who in 1993 became newly independent Armenia’s first ambassador to the United States and spent his career as a diplomat, academic, writer, advocate for democratic values and champion of Armenia’s well-being, passed away in Boston on Tuesday, April 21.
Shougarian, 57, had lived in the Boston area since 2008 with his wife, Lilit Karapetian-Shougarian, a renowned pianist, and three sons Narek Shougarian, Tigran Shougarian and Haik Shougarian. In a statement posted on social media, the family stated: “It is with great sorrow that we announce that our loving father and husband, Ambassador Rouben Shougarian, PhD, passed away peacefully this morning in Boston, Massachusetts after suffering a stroke last week.”
Since coming to the United States, Shougarian served as the academic force for the program at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy that trained hundreds of Armenian civil servants in public policy and administration. But as important, he became a leading voice – pragmatic as well as idealistic – for the Armenian-American diaspora as well as a succession of Armenian administrations on the multiple challenges facing the fledgling democracy.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a statement that Shougarian, whom he knew well and admired, “embodied the best features of an Armenian intellectual, with a broad worldview, an active civic attitude, patriotism and firmness in his beliefs.”
Added Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, “Armenia has lost one of its best and brightest,” in an interview. “Rouben’s composure and judgement were so important in forging Armenia’s relationship with the United States. He set a very high standard at a time when Armenia was going through some of its darkest hours.”