Obituary: Sirarpi (Stella) Baronian Aftandilian, Daughter of Genocide Survivors, Stylish Hostess and Fundraiser


WAYLAND, Mass. — Sirarpie (Stella) Aftandilian of Wayland and earlier a longtime resident of Weston, died peacefully on January 15, 2022. She was 95.

Born in Worcester to Hovannes and Margaret (née Kharagavoorian) Baronian, both of whom were survivors of the Armenian Genocide, she grew up in the tight-knight “Laurel Street” neighborhood of the city, which was home to many Armenian immigrants and their offspring. She and her family then moved to Medford, where she graduated from Medford High School. Later, she attended classes at Boston University and worked for several years for an accounting firm in Boston.

In 1955, she married Victor Aftandilian, a chemist who was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University at the time. The couple soon moved to Wilmington, Del., where Victor was employed as a research chemist at DuPont. There they had three sons before moving back to the Boston area in 1960, first residing in Watertown and later in Weston.

She was very proud of her Armenian heritage and was active in the community. In her youth, she was a member of the Medford chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation. Wishing to pass on her devotion to her ancestry, she and her husband made sure that their sons attended Sunday School and Armenian School at St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Watertown. She was an active volunteer for Friends of Armenian Culture Society (FACS) and helped put on the annual Armenian Night at POPS with the Boston Symphony. She was also active in the Armenian Assembly of America, and especially the Armenia Tree Project, which promotes the socioeconomic development of Armenia through reforestation. Using her considerable social skills, she was a prolific fundraiser for the latter and mentored many of the organization’s staffers.

She was a great hostess and frequently put on dinner parties for relatives, friends and her husband’s business associates, including many overseas visitors, often times at very short notice. Everyone came to admire her for her warmth and hospitality, as well as her sense of humor, even though she had tendency to ask people personal questions which she said, in tongue and cheek, was part of her “charm.” She loved the company of young people, and was known affectionately as “Auntie Stella” to the children of her many cousins and friends as well as her husband’s relatives.

Known as a fashion icon, she loved to dress stylishly and wear hats. She was a ubiquitous presence with her outfits and hats at parties and other social events.

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She was a devoted sister to her late siblings John, Betty, and Helen Baronian, and was the devoted mother to her son John and his wife Krista, her son Gregory and his wife Nazeni, and her late son Ara and his wife Terri Lee.  She was also the grandmother of seven precious grandchildren: Lia, Melanie, Victoria, Alexander, Danielle, Alec, and Luca.

Funeral services were held at St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church, Watertown, MA, on Saturday, January 22, followed by interment at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA.

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