WASHINGTON — Jerair Nishanian, a noted philanthropist, husband, father, stepfather, grandfather, brother, and uncle, died on March 13. He was 85.
He is survived by his wife Anahid Nishanian, his son and daughter-in-law Tagvor and Shelby Nishanian, daughter and son-in-law Alineh and Brad Templin, stepdaughter and son-in-law Natalie and Allen Martirossian, grandchildren Tiffany and Nicholas Martirossian and Julia, William, and Samuel Nishanian, sister Hasmick Nishanian, sister-in-law Ezzat Nishanian, many nieces, nephews, their children and grandchildren.
Jerair Nishanian, the youngest of 5 children, was born on November 29, 1936, in Tehran, Iran. His father (the late Abraham Nishanian) was born in Bursa, Turkey and his mother (the late Maryam Nishanian), in Apin Akoulis, Armenia. They were the only members of their families who had survived the Armenian Genocide. His father was an entrepreneur, and had developed an export business of packaging and shipping Persian carpets to the US and he was devoted to his Armenian identity and to his Armenian heritage and traditions. Abraham Nishanian passed away when Jerair was only two years old, so he and his 4 siblings were raised alone by his mother. She miraculously had survived the Armenian Genocide, as a very young child, with a bullet in her knee, and was found alive among the dead. She was raised at the American orphanage in the city of Hamedan in Iran. She was a very pious, wise and resourceful lady, who instilled her strong Armenian cultural identity and beliefs into all of her children. Jerair Nishanian has always been deeply influenced by his parents’ past, and developed strong feelings for his heritage and ancestral motherland, Armenia.
In June, 1956, he graduated from Alborz High School in Tehran, Iran, with an emphasis in mathematics. He worked for two years; in the mornings teaching math to the six graders at the Abovian Elementary School, and in the afternoons as an office assistant for an Armenian merchant, after which he saved the equivalent of $500.
Since he could not continue his education in Iran, he decided to continue his education in the United States. Therefore, with the information obtained from the American Library, located in Tehran, he applied for admission to several universities and received acceptance letters from American University, in Washington D.C. for a special program for English language for foreign students, George Washington University in Washington DC, and University of Nebraska in Lincoln, for engineering studies.
Upon receiving his acceptance letters, his older brother, the late Carro Nishanian, purchased an airplane ticket for him, and on November 8, 1958, Jerair Nishanian left Tehran and on November 9, 1958, arrived in Washington.