BEIRUT — Artoun Nazareth Festekjian, 91, passed away peacefully at his home on April 6, in the Jal El Dib suburb of Beirut, Lebanon.
He leaves his wife Alice Guidanian; children Nazareth and wife Nila Ekmekji, Raffi and wife Nina Metrebian, Zaven and wife Nancy Semerdjian, Taline and husband Kevork Babikian; grandchildren Artoun, Alek, Andre, Armen, Allan, Aram, Jack, Maria, Anthony and Alina; sister Arpine Fereshetian, and an extended family of nieces, nephews and cousins.
Born on November 10, 1924 in Aleppo, Syria to Nazareth Kevork Festekjian and Arousiag Kevork Demirdjian, he received his primary and secondary education at Aleppo’s Grtasiratz and Freres Maristes school. Upon earning his Baccalaureate with the highest national score in Syria, he attended Ecole Supérieure de Tissage in Lyon, France. When he returned to Syria, he collaborated with his brother, Shahnour, and working together, established a successful carpet manufacturing factory in Aleppo, which was nationalized in December 1964.
Along with his young family, he relocated to Beirut in February 1965, where he and his brother Shahnour founded Liban Tapis, a new carpet manufacturing factory that became the largest carpet factory in the Middle East with more than 1,200 employees. In the midst of the Lebanese civil war, he moved to Canada for three years, returning to Lebanon in 1992. He frequently traveled to the US to visit his children and grandchildren. He returned to Beirut for the last time in July 2015.
As the son of a prominent lawyer, Nazareth Kevork Festekjian, he was proud of his illustrious Armenian heritage and his paternal homeland, Aintab. His father passed away at a relatively young age, which is why he often wondered about what his father would think of his and his family’s accomplishments, and hoped he would be proud of all of them.
He was a strong willed man, defined by his sense of honor and his principles. He was also a fiercely loyal man. Above all, he was kind, loving and generous with a golden heart.
He, alongside his brother Shahnour, donated to numerous causes. He was a silent philanthropist who never sought the spotlight. To him, the deed of doing good was far more important than the recognition. He helped the Armenian Church whenever needed, and he valued education and promoted it throughout his life. He assisted Armenian schools and helped students in need.
He was a supporter of the Armenian Red Cross and provided support during difficult times of the Lebanese civil war, when the Armenian neighborhoods desperately needed protection.
He also established the Nazareth Festekjian Hospital to assist the wounded during that civil war. And when the 1989 earthquake struck Armenia, he extended his helping hand as well. Through all of his good deeds, he set an example to his children, which they embrace wholeheartedly as they continue on his legacy.
Most importantly, his priority was his family. He was proud of all his children, their spouses, and his ten grandchildren, and proud of their accomplishments.
In lieu of flowers donations can be sent to: AGBU Humanitarian Emergency Relief Fund for Syrian Armenians https://donate.agbu.org/agbu-urgent-appeal Or AGBU Educational Funds https://donate.agbu.org/general-donation