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      Haigashen Ouzounian passed away

Haigashen Ouzounian passed away   26/05/2006

Press Release

Last surviving founder of Tekeyan Cultural Association Haigashen Ouzounian passed away in Cyprus

A prominent intellectual, benefactor and business leader, Haigashen Ouzounian, passed away in Larnaca (Cyprus), on Tuesday, May 23, after a long illness. He kept the clarity of his mind to the last moment.

Haigashen Ouzounian was born in Adana, Cilicia of parents who were natives of neighboring Hajin, in 1920. He lost his parents at a very early age and he was sent to Melkonian Educational Institution where he graduated with distinction. Following his graduation he entered the French university in Beirut, Lebanon where he graduated as an engineer. After practicing his engineering career in Lebanon he moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to work with the renowned industrialist and benefactor Mardiros Darakjian, whose daughter Marie he later married. That union was blessed with three daughters - Taleen, Seza and Ani. As a successful industrialist, he would later become a generous benefactor and a very active leader of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Tekeyan Cultural Association and ADL, contributing financially and also as an enterprising organizer.

Haigashen Ouzounian joined the AGBU at a very early age and he soon became one of the young leaders of the AGBU youth organization in Lebanon and in Cyprus. He also joined the ADL at a very early age and in 1947 he became one of the leading members of its Central Committee. He continued to serve the ADL in many different capacities and during the last years of his life, as Life President of ADL. In 1946 he was one of the active members of the Repatriation Committee, helping Armenians from the Middle East to resettle in Armenia.

In 1947 Haigashen Ouzounian joined the ranks of a group of leading intellectuals to become a founder of the Tekeyan Cultural Association. The group of founders was inspired by Vahan Tekeyan and Mihran Damadian, who had served the Armenian community in Lebanon prior to that period. In 1966 he established the Haigashen Ouzounian Literary Prize, which encouraged many writers in the Diaspora and, after Armenia's independence, also contributed to the promotion of Armenian literature in the newly independent homeland.

Beginning in 1961 Haigashen Ouzounian actively participated in many AGBU projects. He first became one of the brilliant leaders of the Regional Committee of Lebanon, and later on in 1974 he was elected a member of the Central Board of Directors, the highest body of the organization. Later on he became the Vice President of the AGBU Swiss organization, and then was promoted to the position of President, in which capacity he served until 1995, when he retired as a result of mandatory age limitation. He remained as an Emeritus member of the AGBU. Haigashen Ouzounian was a close associate of the late benefactor Alex Manoogian, who entrusted him with many major projects. Among them, the Melkonian project to develop income property on the Melkonian site to generate continuous income to ensure the perpetuity of the Institution to which his life was interwoven intimately.

For almost half a century Haigashen Ouzounian remained as a leading figure in Armenian community life, serving the Armenian Apostolic Church, the ADL, the Tekeyan Cultural Association and the Armenian General Benevolent Union. Serving in those capacities he visited many countries, organized different communities and contributed generously for their development. Ouzounian was also endowed with a very special talent of a writer. He was an inspiring orator and a perspicacious writer. His articles appeared in many newspapers. He also became the author of a number of books, such as "The Armenagan Party", published in 1985, Lebanon. Another book entitled "Contemporary Armenian Leaders" was published in Boston in 1994, and also "Reminiscences from the Melkonian Educational Institute", 2004 in Yerevan. He was in the process of completing his last book when his life was cut short.

Haigashen Ouzounian was awarded the First Order of St. Gregory the Illuminator by His Holiness Vasken I, Catholicos of all Armenians in 1990. He was also awarded the AGBU Alex Manoogian Prize. After independence, President Robert Kocharian bestowed upon him the medal of Moses of Khoren (Movses Khorenatzi). Haigashen Ouzounian's demise brings to a close the work of a generation of leaders who had served the Armenian Diaspora with distinction and firm commitment.

Tekeyan Cultural Association, Inc.
Central Board of Directors
United States of America and Canada


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