Ara Aharonian

LA Armenian Democratic Liberal and Tekeyan Cultural Association Leader Ara Aharonian Passes Away

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By Hagop Vartivarian

GLENDALE, Calif. – Ara Karekin Aharonian was born in Tripoli, Lebanon on June 28, 1952 to Paylag and Mari Aharonian. He received his primary education at the Khrimian-Noubarian [Armenian] National School in Tripoli, but when his father was invited to be a teacher at the Vahan Tekeyan School of Beirut, Aharonian moved with his family to Beirut in 1966 and went to the secondary school for boys of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Hovagimian-Manougian School. He went then to Haigazian College, followed by the American University of Beirut, where he majored in engineering. He simultaneously pursued musical interests, including voice training.

The Lebanese Civil war led him to move to Los Angeles, where in 1978 he graduated university with a degree in electrical engineering. While a student, in his spare time he served as secretary and organized the activities of the AGBU Armenian Youth Association of the Western United States.

In Service to the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party and Tekeyan Cultural Association

At an early age, Aharonian joined the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADL) in Beriut, where he joined the Portukalian Youth Club. After coming to the US, he was an active member of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) Los Angeles chapter, serving as its vice chairman, as well as chairing two different ADL chapters.

In 1980, he was elected a member of the ADL District Committee of Western America, and served in various executive positions. For many years he represented the party in inter-political party committees. In 1982 he was one of the founders of the ADL Armenagan Youth Movement, and was its first chairman. In 1987-89 he edited that movement’s Armenagan Yeramseay [Armenagan Quarterly] periodical. In 1996-1997 and 2003-2008, he served as chairman of the ADL Western District Committee executive.

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During five years, he served first as a member in 1983, and then as chairman of the executive of the ADL Armenian Rights Council of Western America, maintaining relations with local American political figures and circles, and organizing meetings for publicity and publishing writings on the Armenian Genocide and other issues pertaining to Armenian rights.

In the large Armenian communities of the Western United States, he served as co-chairman of pan-Armenian community commemorations of the 80th, 85th, and 90th anniversaries of the Armenian Genocide.

He participated in five ADL General Assemblies and on three different occasions was called upon to serve as part of the executive of those assemblies. In the February 2006 ADL 24th Representative General Assembly in Athens, he was elected a member of the Central Committee (2006-2009).

Upon the invitation of Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Mountainous Karabakh Ashot Ghulyan, in September 2006 he went to Stepanakert and met with President Arkady Ghukasyan to congratulate him in the name of the ADL Central Executive on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Artsakh’s republic.

Local Political Activity

Aharonian established ties with American mayors, policemen, governors and members of the House of Representatives and Senate. In 2005, upon the invitation of California State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Aharonian went to the state capital of Sacramento to participate in the ceremony of official recognition of the Armenian Genocide on its 90th anniversary.

In September 2005, he visited Armenia together with California State Senator Dr. Jack Scott to be present at the official opening of the California-Armenia Trade Office.

He worked in an insurance company as a planner and counselor, and in 2012 was elected as vice president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of California.

Publications

He frequently published pieces in the Armenian Democratic Liberal press, and in particular in the pages of the ADL organ Nor Or in Los Angeles, and the independent weekly newspaper Nor Hayasdan, where he chiefly presented brief biographies of leaders of his political party. Later, these articles appeared in two volumes, Yerakhdavorneru Ughin [Path of the Dedicated] (Los Angeles, 2006 and 2014). He also published Herosagan temker RAGi [Heroic Figures of the ADL] (Los Angeles, 2001), which was also translated into English and Spanish. He wrote the booklet Lernayin Gharapaghi Hanrabedutiwn/The Republic of Mountainous Karabakh in both Armenian and English (2011) and Hayasdani Hanrabedutean Mardahraverneruh [The Challenges of the Republic of Armenia] (2014), which was published by the Tekeyan Cultural Association.

He was invited for presentations of his books to New York by the local ADL Armenagan-Hovsepian chapter, and to Toronto by the ADL Yesayi Yaghubian Chapter (May 2003), as well as to Buenos Aires, Argentina (March 2008) and Washington D.C. (September 2011).

He passed away suddenly in Glendale, California, at home on May 5, 2021. He leaves behind his wife Diana, daughter Rita (and Andre) Saroughian, and their children Chloe, Gabriel and Colette, son Alex Aharonian, sister Arpy (and Chahe) Ghanimian, sister’s son Zohrab (and Karine) Ghanimian and their daughter Eris, sister’s daughter Tamar Ghanimian, sister’s son Dr. Shiraz Ghanimian, in-laws Diran and Anna Depanian, and the entire Aharonian, Depanian, Saroughian, Ghanimian, Darian, Hovsepian, Keshishian, Bilemjian, Tamer, Artinian and Poladian families and friends.

Funeral services will take place on May 20 at 10 a.m. at St. Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank, to be followed by burial at Glendale Forest Lawn Cemetery.

(Translated from the original Armenian article.)

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