By Florence Avakian
NEW YORK — It was a memorial tribute to an Armenian individual who embodied the best in education, scholarship, compassion and philanthropy.
“What a voyage I have been on,” he once wrote.
On Wednesday, April 13, some 1,500 guests attended a three-hour memorial service at the famed Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall in New York City, to mark one year since the passing of Dr. Vartan Gregorian: a larger-than-life individual who was born in poverty in Iran, was inspired by a devoted and charismatic grandmother, and rose to the pinnacle of success in America.
His extraordinary legacy included becoming the president of three of the most prestigious institutions — the New York Public Library, Brown University, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Among numerous honors he received, Dr. Gregorian was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
At the Carnegie Hall tribute, close to three dozen speakers and a dozen performers shared their thoughts and talents. These included former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Carnegie Hall Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Corporation Chairman (and former New Jersey Governor) Thomas Kean, Carnegie Corporation President-Elect Professor Louise Richardson, New York Public Library President Anthony Marx, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, Aurora Co-Founder Noubar Afeyan, COAF president and founder Garo Armen, historian Robert Caro, and world famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma.