His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, and the Religious and Executive Councils of the Eastern Prelacy have learned with sorrow of the passing of Arthur B. Hairabedian, co-founder of St. Sarkis Church of Douglaston, New York, as well as longtime chairman of its Board of Trustees and delegate to the National Representative Assembly. He was 93.
Mr. Hairabedian was born on April 22, 1930, in New York, the second child to Armenian Genocide survivors Haroutiun and Archalouis Hairabedian and brother to Hermine Tabibian. The Hairabedians lived in Queens Village and were active in the community life, which also involved vacationing in Tannersville, a popular spot with New York Armenians.
Following the typical childhood of an Armenian American teenager, Arthur—who played the clarinet and had a band called Art Bishop and the Jumping Five–graduated from Bryant High School in 1948. He decided not to attend college and got a job at a photo engraving shop. In 1950, as the Korean War began, he was drafted and joined the Marine Corps with the rank of Corporal and ordered to ship out to Korea, but as luck would have it, someone from his unit volunteered, and Mr. Hairabedian’s name was picked out of a hat and was not deployed. Upon his honorable discharge, Mr. Hairabedian returned to New York and under the GI bill was able to go to college and graduated in two and half years from NYU with an Electrical Engineering degree.
Yet he always found time to be involved with the community. He met his wife, Lilian, at the Armenian Club at NYU. They graduated together in June 1957 and married in October of that year. Mr. Hairabedian’s first job was with Hazeltine Electronics. He became Department Head when the first UNIVAC II computers were being installed.
In 1959, along with group of young families from Long Island (the Petrossians, Akopiantzs, Derians, Callians, Hagopians, and Haratunians to name a few), the Hairabedians decided it was time to have a church in their own community. After campaigning and fundraising, the dream came true in 1962. St. Sarkis Church had a new home in Bayside, and Mr. Hairabedian was nominated as the Chairman of the Consecration Committee and subsequently Chairman of the Board of Trustees. With a mortgage of $125,000.00 (equivalent to $1.2 million today), the families worked to keep the church going. Having no money to spare, the men usually did all the repairs themselves, even the roofing work.
In 1965, the Hairabedians chose to move to Paris, where they eventually created their own company in the fishing and smoking industry. Mr. Hairabedian naturally turned to the Armenian community and to the church of the French capital. He was elected to the Board of Trustees of St. John the Baptist Church and once again, helped reinvigorate the parish of the French capital. Mr. Hairabedian never limited his involvement to the Church alone, also helping the Tebrotzaser School, the Mekhitarist school, or AGBU.
The children, Diane, Laura, and Alan, moved back to the U.S. in the mid-80s, and after retiring, the Hairabedians moved back to New York in 2007. Although decades had passed since Mr. Hairabedian had last served St. Sarkis, without hesitation he got involved as a Board of Trustees member and National Representative Assembly delegate, generously sharing his counsel, time and financial assistance.
Mr. Hairabedian’s service to the Armenian church and St. Sarkis Church was recognized several times, including a Prelacy Eagle medal presented to him at the National Representative Assembly meeting hosted by St. Sarkis Church in 2016for his many years of service to the Armenian church. In 2022, on occasion of the 60th anniversary of St. Sarkis Church, Mr. Hairabedian was honored as one of the founding fathers of the church and presented with a special recognition for his many years of dedicated service to the church.
The wake service will be held today, November 2, at St. Sarkis Church, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The funeral service will be on Friday, November 3, at the church, presided by the Prelte, and followed by the interment service at Cedar Grove cemetery. Donations may be made to St. Sarkis Church.
Archbishop Anoushavan and the Religious and Executive Councils extend their condolences to Mr. Hairabedian’s family and loved ones. May God illuminate his soul. Աստուած հոգին լուսաւորէ։