Yervant Babayan, Longtime Tekeyan, ADL Member, Dies at 101

LOS ANGELES — Writer, educator and veteran Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) leader Yervant Babayan passed away on August 6, 2014 in Los Angeles. He was 101.

Babayan was born in Aintab in 1913. His father was the famous Aintab cleric Rev. Nerses Babayan, a leader of the self-defense battles in Aintab after World War I. Surviving the Armenian Genocide and the unsuccessful return of Armenians to Aintab, Babayan and his family settled in Aleppo. He furthered his education in Paris but returned to Aleppo to serve 20 years at the Giligian School, first as teacher and then principal. In 1953 he moved to Beirut to become principal at the Vahan Tekeyan School, where he had a 40-year tenure and prepared generations of young Armenians. Simultaneously he continued his education at St. Joseph University and received a degree in Armenology and Oriental Studies.

Babayan was one of the founders of the Armenian General Benevolent Union Youth Association, and became its chairman in 1935. In 1934 he also became one of the founders of the Arek Cultural Society.

During World War II he raised money for Soviet Armenia’s David of Sasun Tank Division, and after the war served as secretary of the [Armenian] Repatriation Committee of Syria and the Armenian National Council, which pursued Armenian political goals. From 1967 to 1971 he was chairman of the executive committee of the TCA.

During the Lebanese Civil War, Babayan served from 1977 to 1978 as chairman of the Regional Committee of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party. In 1986 he moved with his family to Los Angeles, and from 1987 to 1993 worked as TCA executive director.

From 1971 to 1978 Babayan edited the Nor Aintab quarterly, and was always a frequent contributor to the Armenian periodical press in general. He is the author of numerous textbooks, histories and memoirs in Armenian.

Babayan received numerous awards throughout his long life. They include the medal of merit from the Lebanese Ministry of Education and the Teacher’s Medal of Honor; gold medals from the municipality of Sin-el-Fil in Lebanon and the Vahan Tekeyan School of Beirut; Certificate of Honor of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Armenians Abroad of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia; and Honorary Member of the President’s Circle of Armenian American International College. Catholicos Vazgen I bestowed upon him the Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Medal of Honor. The Teacher’s Lounge of the College’s Dadian Center was named after Yervant and Rosine Babayan, while Mashdots College bestowed upon him the title of Honorary  Professor of Armenian Studies. The Armenian General Benevolent Union granted him the President’s Medal of Honor in 2010.

When Babayan turned 100, a celebration at the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America was held with more than 450 guests. The commemorative booklet included letters of congratulations from prominent politicians such as the mayor of Los Angeles and members of Congress.

Funeral services took place on August 14 in Old North Church at the Hollywood Hills Forest Lawn Cemetery. Survivors include his wife, Rosine Babayan; children and their spouses Prof. Silva and Dr. Sarkis Karayan, Nerses and Hermine Babayan, and Ara and Sonia Babayan; grandchildren Zella and Khatchik Karakozian (and their own children Tamar and Patil), Yervant Ara Babayan, Yervant Nerses Babayan, Taleen Babayan, Alex and Tamar Babayan; and nephews and nieces and their spouses Khachig and Shushan Babayan, and Lena and Ishkhan Jinbashian.

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made in memory of the deceased to the Ararat Home in Mission Hills, Calif., and the Yervant Babayan Saturday School of the Armenian Church of Crescenta Valley.