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In Memoriam: George Bournoutian, Prolific and Dedicated Scholar

George Bournoutian (1943-2021)

BOSTON, MA – The National Association of Armenian Studies & Research (NAASR) joins with scholars and friends all over the world in mourning the passing of an esteemed colleague, Prof. George Bournoutian (1943-2021). While wishing to honor his stated wishes that no outpourings of sentiment follow his death, out of respect for his enormous contributions we offer this brief appreciation and extend our deepest sympathies to his family.

George Bournoutian was born and raised in Isfahan, Iran. Over the course of a long and productive career he published more than thirty books as author or translator which have been translated into many languages, and he taught at UCLA, Columbia University, Tufts University, New York University, Rutgers, University of Connecticut, and only recently retired after many years at Iona College.

Among his publications are The Khanate of Erevan Under Qajar Rule; A Concise History of the Armenian People; The History of Vardapet Arakel of Tabriz; Two Chronicles on the History of Karabagh; The Travel Accounts of Simeon of Poland; Jambr; The 1823 Russian Survey of the Karabagh Province: A Primary Source on the Demography and Economy of Karabagh in the Early 19th Century; A Brief History of the Aghuank Region; The 1829-1832 Russian Surveys of the Khanate of Nakhichevan; and Armenia and Imperial Decline: The Yerevan Province, 1900-1914.

George Bournoutian with Nancy Kolligian and Marc Mamigonian after a lecture in 2009

In addition to his writings, George was a prolific lecturer, giving innumerable talks including many for NAASR over the years in Belmont and all over the U.S. and Canada. He was also a world traveler and led NAASR’s first Armenian Heritage Tour in decades in 2006 to the Republic of Armenia and Historic Armenia.

In 2008, he enriched NAASR’s library immeasurably when he transferred his huge scholarly library, the Ani and George Bournoutian Collection, which has become a cornerstone of the Mardigian Library. NAASR, in turn, was proud to support his work through grants for several of his publications.

George Bournoutian with fellow 2006 NAASR Armenian Heritage Tour travelers George Krikorian, Nancy Kolligian, Judy Kolligian, Van Aroian, Mary Aroian, Bob Bejoian

Former NAASR Chairman Nancy Kolligian recalled that George “was an outstanding scholar who electrified the room when he entered it. I will remember going to Armenia and Historic Armenia with him on our 2006 NAASR trip—we had such a great time.” Current Chairman Yervant Chekijian remembered Bournoutian as “totally committed to the honest exploration of Armenia’s history

NAASR Academic Director Marc Mamigonian remarked that “George was warm, opinionated, unfiltered, brilliant, hilarious, and utterly indefatigable. He was always in the middle of a book project and excited about the next one. While it is difficult to accept that there will be no next book, no one can say that George Bournoutian didn’t get the most out of life, and he leaves an incredible legacy.”

Anyone who ever met George Bournoutian or heard one of his lectures could feel his energy and boundless vitality. Those qualities will endure in his huge scholarly output, which will continue to enrich us, and in our memories of him as a friend and a scholar. He will indeed be missed.

Tom Vartabedian: My Final Column

tom-vartabedian-wsj

Tom Vartabedian (Wall Street Journal)

After a courageous battle with liver cancer, longtime Armenian American journalist Tom Vartabedian passed away on November 12, 2016. His countless articles have appeared in several Armenian and non-Armenian publications spanning nearly 50 years, covering everything from community events and initiatives, to interesting individuals and their stories from both Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora. For decades, readers looked forward to his weekly “Poor Tom’s Almanac” column, which has been published for 46 consecutive years, since 1970.

Below is Vartabedian’s final column, which he wrote on Oct. 12.

The End to an Indelible Career

As the dog said when he bit his tail, “This must be the end.”

After 50 years as a writer and photographer for The Gazette, my career as a roving journalist has come to a staggering halt. In the interim, I’ve had the luxury of covering every beat possible.

My Almanac started in 1970 as a way of perhaps introducing some levity into the serious and often stoic world of journalism. Hopefully, I’ve made some small impact into your lives and perhaps an elusive smile here and there.

It was not my choice to concede but one made for me through my battle with terminal cancer. The future remained imminent, after being diagnosed eight months ago. Trust me, I gave it a good shot, hoping to turn despair into some semblance of encouragement.

My final week was spent in Nova Scotia with dear friends—a trip that was postponed once—and finally came to fruition. I shall take the good times with me to my final resting place, leaving the photos behind for others to enjoy.

The symptoms were insurmountable.

My appetite abandoned me almost entirely. Much as I tried, the sight of food made me nauseous. While others were dining on salmon and steak, the best I could do was a cracker and maybe some ice cream.

My condition weakened by the moment until finally I was counting the days to return home. It takes a good front not to alarm those around you. The last thing I would have ever wanted in a group of 50 tourists was a pity party.

Some pain and discomfort built up gradually to the point where my physical energy took an extreme hit. I was content just staying in my room with a good book but played the game. Hopefully, I left behind no telltale signs of remorse among my peers.

I have often been told by others that my career as a journalist and photographer became stagnated and stale. How untrue! Why would anybody spend a half century with one job, one paper?

My response to that comment would be, “Why not?” If you really love your work and your environment, why change? Working in the city where I have lived was a true complement. I was always there for my children and wife. Her job as a local schoolteacher ran parallel to mine.

Never a traffic jam. Not even a school bus. There’s something to be said for proximity. Even more to be said for building up a rapport with a loyal readership. I always considered Haverhill as my own personal Cheers bar. The stories simply manifested themselves on all fronts.

My association with the Armenian community here has been undeniable. Every stranger became a friend in waiting.

The wonderful years with The Gazette were also complemented by a similar passion with The Armenian Weekly and writers like William Saroyan who became my source of inspiration. I had the best of both worlds in the American and Armenian genre.

Over the last 20 years, my stories and photos made the rounds throughout other ethnic publications in the world which brought me added pleasure. My friends and associates throughout the medium stood right by me throughout these moments of turmoil. It’s the best lifeline any cancer victim can embrace.

As I get ready to take my final bow, I can only hope that God gives me just a little more time to welcome forth a photography exhibit I have opening Oct. 23 at the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown. I’ll be collaborating with another photographer named Sona (Dulgarian) Gevorkian who is truly an impeccable artist with her camera.

Our work together will reflect images of Armenia both from the Eastern and Western extremes.

The final copies of a book, “The Armenians of Merrimack Valley,” co-authored with Haverhill High’s Phil Brown, will be inscribed for charity at a dinner-dance Oct. 22 by the Armenian Friends of America.

And finally, I opted to repeat the classes on obituary-writing at our Haverhill Citizens Center the first three Mondays in November beginning at 1 pm. It’s open to the public. In the event I’m still breathing, I will have fulfilled what I consider to be a long and productive life to which there have been few if any regrets.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a daughter inculcate a career as an editor and journalist, along with two Eagle Scout sons who have made their mark in mechanical engineering and marketing. That would not have been possible without the education they all received in our local public schools.

If I can leave you with anything, please do not take our community for granted and get the most out of it. What you do for yourself invariably dies with you. What you do for others lives on and forms legacies.

When troubles get you down, find your faith and give it a chance. It’ll be there waiting for you.

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly.

Florida Atlantic University Conducts First Public Teacher Workshop on the Armenian Genocide in South Florida

Workshop is Part of a Series of Events in South Florida Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Managing Editor

AG Workshop 1

As part of the South Florida commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) will conduct a two-part series of events. On January 20th, Dr. Rosanna Gatens, Director of the Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education (CHHRE) at FAU and Reverend Fr. Paren Galstyan, Pastor of St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, Florida, held a workshop at the Alex and Marie Manoogian School. The workshop featured lectures, exhibits, and thought-provoking information and dialogue on the Armenian Genocide. Facilitated by Dr. Mary Johnson, Facing History and Ourselves, the workshop explored the role of World War I in the execution of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

Fifteen teachers from Broward and Palm Beach County participated in the FAU workshop. “St. David’s Armenian school was the perfect setting for teachers, not only to learn about the Armenian genocide and how to teach it, but also to begin to understand Armenian identity,” stated Dr. Gatens. “All of us were fascinated by the richness of Armenian culture, but even more by the ancientness of Armenian Christianity,” Dr. Gatens said.

FAU AG Workshop C1

During the workshop instructors examined the exhibit “Witness to the Armenian Genocide: Photographs by the Perpetrators’ German and Austro-Hungarian Allies,” produced by the Armenian National Institute (ANI), the Armenian Genocide Museum of America (AGMA), and the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). The ten-poster set includes an introductory page, a detailed timeline, a color-coded map geographically matching the photographs with their location, and seven pages displaying 34 captioned historic photographs. The color-coded map in the exhibit is based on the previously-published ANI map of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkish Empire illustrating the three prevailing aspects of the Genocide: the deportations, the massacres, and the concentration camps.

FAU’s second lecture commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will take place on Sunday, April 19, 2015, as part of the Martin and Edith Stein Community Lecture Series. Dr. Tamar Akçam will discuss his book, “The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire.” Dr. Akçam is the Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Florida Atlantic University Events Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide:

January 20, 2015

Teacher Workshop: The Role of World War I in the Execution of the Armenian Genocide, facilitated by Dr. Mary Johnson, Facing History and Ourselves, FAU, Boca Raton Campus, 8.30-a.m.3.30 p.m. at St. David’s Armenian Church, Boca Raton. Substitute reimbursements available. April 2015 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. This program is part of local commemoration of the first genocide of the Twentieth Century.

April 19, 2015

Martin and Edith Stein Community Lecture Series: Dr. Tamar Akçam will discuss his book, “The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire,” Dr. Akçam is Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. This program is part of south Florida’s commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. FAU, Boca Campus, 7-9 p.m., location TBA.