WYNNEWOOD, Penn. — On Friday, September 28, the Armenian community of Philadelphia came together, at a reception hosted by St. Sahag & St. Mesrob Armenian Church, to honor Papken Megerian, one of the 2012 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients, acknowledging their pride in an immigrant whose service to the Armenian community, in the US and abroad, spans several decades.
Parish Council Vice Chair Mark Gulasarian welcomed the 200 guests gathered for the occasion and expressed his appreciation to Megerian for all of his efforts on behalf of the parish. He shared some highlights of Megerian’s devotion to the Armenian community and acknowledged both Papken and his wife, Anahid, reflecting back on their 50 years of marriage as an inspiration to the community and stating, “If Papken could, he would cut the medal in half and give the other half to Anahid.”
Sonia Kailian Placido, Papken Megerian’s niece, shed some light on the personal influence that her uncle has had in her life. She, along with her two sisters and brother, was raised by a single mother. Her three uncles became surrogate fathers to them and “Papken Keri” was omnipresent in their lives as they were growing up. He was always ready, willing and able to give of his time.
Her uncle, she said, “is a man who thrives on helping others. Call it good or bad, but he never says no.”
“It wasn’t until I got older and had my own family that I was really able to appreciate the true generosity of my uncle . . . and that of his wife and children for their willingness to share him. His involvement in numerous organizations and philanthropies still boggles my mind — how does he make time for it all? Passion. Simply put, he is a passionate man — passionate for each and every aspect of his life, whether it be family, church, work, or charity.”
Her biggest thanks were reserved for Papken Megerian’s efforts on behalf of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator. “My husband Jeff, I think,
holds the title for the non-Armenian who reads the Armenian Mirror-Spectator front to back, inside and out, each and every week, throughout the year. In fact, were it not for Jeff pointing out the latest pictures or stories of Papken in the paper, I wouldn’t be aware of half of his accomplishments.”
She concluded her remarks by congratulating him on his award: “The Ellis Island Medal of Honor is awarded to distinguished American citizens who exemplify a life dedicated to community service; people who preserve and celebrate the history, traditions and values of their ancestry and who dedicate themselves to creating a better world for us all. Such powerful words, and I couldn’t think of a more deserving man.”
Guests were then treated to a performance by 14-year-old Elise Dadourian, a member of the parish Sunday School and an aspiring singer.
Dadourian has just released a new single, American Made, written by her manager/mentor Dan May, who joined her on stage to perform the song, which is about the important contribution immigrants made to 20th-century America.
Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian, former pastor of the parish and longtime friend of the Megerian family, shared his feelings on the occasion and the Very Rev. Oshagan Gulgulian, parish pastor shared his feelings as well. “The community is very proud to have such a distinguished servant as Papken Megerian in our midst and we congratulate both Papken and Anahid Megerian on the celebration of their golden anniversary this past year.”
Papken Megerian grew up in Aleppo, Syria and is the son of Armenian immigrants who escaped from the Genocide. He came to the
United States in the early 1960s, where he began a career in international banking, later moving on to purchase and operate several
businesses. Though semi-retired, he is presently the managing partner of a real estate investment company, 3 MB Partnership L.P., as well as a shareholder and treasurer of Four Meg Inc. Philanthropically, the couple supports many Armenian and charitable causes in the US, Armenia, Javakhk (now part of Georgia), Karabagh and Jerusalem through the Papken-Anahid Megerian Family Foundation.
Over the years, they have devoted many resources to the Diocesan Center in Javakhk, the Our Lady of Armenia Boghossian Educational Center in Gumri, the Armenian Sisters’ Academy of Philadelphia, ICAN (the International Children’s Anophthalmia Network) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Megerian is also the benefactor of the Diocese of Arakatzotz, where the parish’s former pastor, Archbishop Mkrtich Proshyan is the Primate. The Megerians have committed themselves to building a museum in the city of Oshagan, dedicated to Mesrob Mashtots and the Armenian alphabet.
They have also financially supported countless cultural, educational and religious programs and organizations, including Birthright
Armenia, the Guiliguian Educational Association and the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, frequently hosting events in their home.
Megerian is the co-chair of the ADL (Ramgavar) District Committee of the Eastern US and Canada, and serves on the Central Committee of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the US and Canada. He is also a trustee of the Society of Orphaned Armenia Relief and a longtime member of the AGBU and the Knights of Vartan. His involvement in the Parish of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Armenian Church spans
44 years and includes positions as chairman and treasurer of the Parish Council and his representation as a Diocesan Delegate of the
parish for 24 years. He is currently the treasurer of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern).
In the last 10 years, Megerian has visited Armenia 25 times for purposes of business, philanthropy and culture. In recognition of his support, Catholicos Karekin I decorated him with the St. Nerses Shnorhali Medal and a pontifical encyclical in 1998. In 2009, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II awarded him the St. Gregory the Illuminator Medal and encyclical, the highest honor of the Armenian Church.
They have three children, Garo Megerian (and wife, Annette), Aram Megerian (and wife, Carla) and Tanya Bardakjian (and husband, Nerces) and grandchildren Gregory Megerian, Carine Megerian, Haig Megerian, Ariana Megerian, Lily Megerian, Lena Bardakjian, Sona Bardakjian and Seta Bardakjian. This year, the two are celebrating their golden anniversary. Megerian was one of eight Armenian-Americans who received the 2012 Ellis Island Medal of Honor in May.