It is with deep sorrow that His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, and the Religious and Lay Councils mourn the passing of Charles Garabed (Der) Kasbarian, a recognized figure in the Armenian community, in Teaneck, NJ, at the age of 95.
Better known by his pen name of C.K. Garabed, as well as Uncle Garabed, he was a newspaper columnist and devotee of all things Armenian. He was also known as the preserver of the dialect, customs, and the cuisine of Dikranagerd.
Mr. Kasbarian was born in Jersey City, NJ, on May 5, 1927, to Hagop Der Kasbarian and Lusia Kazanjian, Armenian Genocide survivors from Dikranagerd, Western Armenia. The second of four brothers, he was raised in Union City, NJ, also known as “Little Dikranagerd.”
He graduated from Emerson High School in Union City, NJ. During World War Two, he served in the U.S. Navy and later went to college on the G.I. Bill. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from New York University and his Master’s degree in Management from Adelphi University.
By profession, Mr. Kasbarian was a financial management officer for the U.S. Department of Defense. His wry sense of humor, for which he was known among his family and friends, found an outlet in his column for The Armenian Weekly, called “Uncle Garabed’s Notebook,” which featured a potpourri of facts, trivia, proverbs and deconstructions of Armenian surnames. He produced this column for the pages of The Armenian Weekly for 33 years and right up until the end.
Mr. Kasbarian was active in the Armenian Church and Armenian community organizations of New York and New Jersey all his life. He was a member of the Armenian National Chorus, conducted by Maestro Mihran Toumajan, one of the famous “five students” of Gomidas. He was also a member of New York City’s St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral Choir under the baton of Toumajan’s student, Armen Babamian. There he met and married the late lyric soprano, administrator, and educator Alice Aghavni Hamparian, born in New York City. They settled in New Jersey, participating in parish life at Sts. Vartanantz Church. They had two children: Lucine Kasbarian, writer, cartoonist, and publicist, and John Antranig Kasbarian, Ph.D., currently Director of Development for the Tufenkian Foundation.
Mr. Kasbarian was a founding member of Sts. Vartanantz Church (1957), serving on the first auditing committee of the Church building project. He served many terms on the Church Board of Trustees and was a mainstay in the Church Men’s Club, whose primary purpose was to fundraise for the Church. The Men’s Club also sponsored the Church’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams that participated in the Armenian Churches Sports Association (ACSA) League. Kasbarian represented Sts. Vartanantz for many years at the ACSA. He also attended National Representative Assemblies (NRA) as a delegate from Sts. Vartanantz. For some years, he and his wife served as board members of the Nareg Armenian Saturday School and both sang in the Hamazkayin Chorus under the baton of Maestro Raffi Sevadjian.
A devotee of classical and Armenian folk music, Kasbarian liked to compose and belonged to many choirs and chorales. He, along with family members and friends, performed with the Nayiri Dance Ensemble of New York, a Western Armenian folk song and dance troupe.
In his twilight years and with the help of his daughter Lucine, Mr. Kasbarian produced several Armenian literary projects begun more than half a century ago, among them, The Dikranagerdtsi Vernacular Handbook; The Dictionary of Armenian Surnames; and An Unusual Look at Biblical Subjects, most which can be accessed in his Armeniapedia archive. A few months before his passing, he completed the final draft of “Oyin Mi Tavli,” a one-act play written exclusively in the dialect of Dikranagerd.
He is predeceased by his wife Alice Aghavni, and brothers Antranig, John Hovhannes, and Haroutiun Sarkis, as well as his cousins Zohrab, Vahan, Hratch and Kevork Dadoyan, and his brothers and sisters-in-law Nishan and Nevarte, and Ardashes and Mary Hamparian.
Kasbarian is survived by his daughter Lucine Kasbarian and husband David Boyajian; his son, John Antranig Kasbarian and wife Maro Matosian. He is also survived by his cousins Sossie Dadoyan-Arlia, Houri Dadoyan-Darakjian, Papken Dadoyan, Dzovig Dadoyan-Ekmekji, Salpi Dadoyan-Nakanishi and Mary Dadoyan, as well as his nieces Anahid and Lorig Hamparian, and Susan Kasbarian-Record; his nephews Andy Kasbarian, Greg, John, Charlie and Richard Kasbarian; Aram N, Vartan, Aram S, and Raffi Hamparian, and many beloved cousins and great nieces and nephews from the Kasbarian, Dadoyan, Hamparian, Kazanjian, and Alipounarian families.
Funeral arrangements will be private. According to his wishes, Charles Kasbarian’s remains will be interred on both Armenian and American soil to reflect his love for his ancestral and adopted homelands.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to: Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church of NJ; St. Illuminator’s Armenian Cathedral of NY; the Tufenkian Foundation or The Armenian Wounded Heroes Fund.
The Prelate and the Religious and Lay Councils extend their condolences to Mr. Kasbarian’s family members and loved ones. May God illuminate his soul.