Nerses Babayam

Obituary: Nerses Babayan, Armenian Writer and Businessman

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LOS ANGELES — Nerses Babayan is the son of Yervant and Rosine Babayan and the grandson of Archpriest Nerses Avak Kahana Babayan of Aintab. He was born in Aleppo in 1944 but moved to Beirut with his family after his father, Yervant Babayan, was invited to become the principal of the Tekeyan Cultural Association’s Vahan Tekeyan School. After his graduation from the Tekeyan School, he continued his studies at the AGBU Melkonian Institute in Cyprus. It is here that, as a teenager, he took his first steps at writing political articles for Arev Daily, published in Cairo. On his return to Beirut, he attended Haigazian College, and along with his studies, he started writing articles in Zartonk daily. Soon, he was invited to become the political section editor of the Ayk daily newspaper in Beirut.

To continue his higher education, Nerses moved to the United States and attended Boston College. He was invited to serve as assistant editor of the Armenian-language Baikar paper and the Armenian Mirror Spectator weekly. After his graduation from Boston College, he moved to Washington D.C. to complete his studies at John Hopkins University. Soon after graduation he settled in New York, to start a family and establish his own private consulting firm, catering to several Permanent Missions within the United Nations.

In spite of his preoccupation with his rapidly growing business, it is remarkable that he created time to continue writing articles about critical issues and challenges facing the Armenian communities in the Middle East, as well as in the United Sates of America. His articles, which appeared in Zartonk, Baikar, Nor Or and the Mirror-Spectator, were very much appreciated both for addressing critical and challenging issues in the Middle East and the United States of America, as well as for his unique style of writing.

Nerses will always be remembered for continuing and expanding the larger Babayan family tradition of community service and philanthropy towards the Armenian Church, Armenian schools, Armenian organizations, and the Armenian press.

Nerses inherited his love, respect and support for the Armenian Church from his grandfather, Archpriest Der Nerses Babayan, a Genocide survivor and one of the organizers and leading figures of the heroic self-defense of the Aintab Armenians. It was his grandfather Der Nerses, who led the Aintab Armenian deportees through the desert until they arrived safely in Aleppo. Yet, that was not all. When Catholicos Papken of Cilicia was informed that a few families had willingly stayed behind in Aintab, he commissioned the courageous Der Nerses to go back to Aintab and convince the families to leave Aintab and settle in Aleppo. Der Nerses accepted this challenging and dangerous mission. He selflessly left behind his young wife and his two-months-old firstborn son, Yervant, went back to Aintab to convince the families, and brought them to Aleppo. Thanks to Der Nerses Babayan’s courage and commitment a very dangerous mission was accomplished successfully.

Nerses’s love and steady support for Armenian schools and education was inspired by his father, Yervant Babayan, the legendary educator and dedicated principal of the TCA Vahan Tekeyan School in Lebanon for more than fifty years.

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On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the school, the Tekeyan School Board of Trustees extended a moving invitation to their beloved former principal, Yervant Babayan, and his wife Rosine, to be present at the festivities. The latter, who at that time were residing in Los Angeles, were delighted with the prospect of attending this celebration of an institution that had been an integral part of their everyday life for many decades.

Sensing the eagerness of his parents, Nerses decided to accompany them to Lebanon, considering their advanced age and the long distance and duration of the trip. He planned a comfortable and safe trip from Los Angeles to Beirut, surprising his parents, as well as the organizers, who appreciated Nerses’s thoughtfulness and commitment. This was an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience for his parents, the organizers, as well as for Nerses himself.

Continuing the greater Babayan family tradition of appreciating and supporting Armenian education, Nerses Babayan will be remembered as a staunch supporter and generous benefactor of the Tekeyan School, where healthy generations of Armenian youth continue to be inspired and empowered to become exemplary citizens and proud Armenians.

Nerses Babayan passed away in New York on November 8, 2023, after a short period of illness. According to his wish, the interment took place at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles. The ceremony was officiated by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, surrounded by Armenian clergy.

In an uplifting message of condolence, support, and appreciation, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians Karekin II praised Nerses as a worthy descendent of the larger Babayan family for his unwavering faith and continuous support of the Armenian Church, particularly the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church, as well as Armenian schools, particularly the Vahan Tekeyan School of Lebanon and the Guiliguian School of Aleppo.

According to his wish, Nerses now rests in peace at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, in close proximity to his beloved parents Yervant and Rosine Babayan.

On Monday, December 18, 2023 a special Karasounk, or requiem service, presided by Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church, took place at St. Vartan Cathedral in New York City. May he rest in peace.

The Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada and the Mirror-Spectator staff extend their profound condolences to the Babayan family concerning the loss of Nerses Babayan, who had supported both organizations staunchly for many years.

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