The Homenetmen Western Regional executive announced last week that it had chosen long-time benefactors Dikran and Zarouhi Der Ghazarian as this year’s Navasartian Games honorary presidents.
Dikran Der Ghazarian was born in Kharpert in 1908–the fourth child of Khatoun Boyadjian and jeweler Khachadour Der Ghazarian. During the Armenian Genocide–his father was imprisoned and beaten to death leaving behind six orphans and a young widow.
"As a skilled artisan my father was allowed to stay in Kharpert. However–I later understood that he would make quality bombs and was spied on–and therefore jailed," remembered his son Dikran.
Because the poverty stricken family did not own gold or money–the Turkish "eshabans" neglected them. First–a Turkish friend–then an Assyrian friend of their father’s saved them.
Holding different jobs as servant–Khatoun Boyadjian managed to keep her family alive.
During the First World War–Der Ghazarian was taken in at one of the numerous American–French and German missionary orphanages–the administration of which later sent him to Lebanon and his two sisters to Greece. In Lebanon–he was assigned to the orphanage in Jibail where his mother was given employment.
In 1925–when the Jibail orphanage closed–Der Ghazarian was transferred to the orphanage at Antelias which would close in 1928. Prior to leaving the orphanage he trained to be a tailor.
Dikran Der Ghazarian’s organizational life began with membership in the Adolescent Orphans’ Organization–until 1930. He later moved to Eshrefiye where he bettered his skill as a tailor and eventually became the owner of his own tailor shop.
In 1933–he joined the ran’s of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–as member of the "Nigol Touman" Gomideh of Eshrefiye with his oath being officiated by renowned freedom fighter Nigol Touman himself.
Moving to Beirut in 1941–he transferred to the ARF "Krisdapor" Gomideh–working with Levon Shant and Nigol Aghbalian–as treasurer.
On May 13–1949–Dikran Der Ghazarian–with his mother and brothers–moved to Chicago–Illinois–where the rest of his family had moved through the help of his father’s brother.
In Chicago–he became a member of the "Krisdapor" Gomideh continuing his active participation.
In 1945–he married his sister’s friend Zarouhi Artinian.
"Ever since Beirut–I was interested in Homenetmen’s activities. However–already having a full personal and organizational life–I could not be a member," Der Ghazarian remembered.
While in Chicago–he closely followed the activities of Homenetmen–and through Asbarez Armenian Newspaper he followed the activities of the Homenetmen in California–and participated as a founding member of the Homenetmen center in California.
In September of 1989–Dikran and Zarouhi Der Ghazarian moved to California–where he remained a consistent sponsor of the organization.
"In reality–I know nothing about my childhood," explained Zarouhie Der Ghazarian–"Someone who knew me told me I am from Van. And my identification card said I was born in 1916. I do not know who put me in an orphanage. I only remember studying at Beirut’s British Friends of Armenia Orphanage–where I remained until I was 15 years old. Probably because I was a good student–and especially because I had no family–the orphanage sent me to high school."
In 1939–after completing her high school education–she attended the British Syrian Training College for a year. In 1940–she began pursuing a nursing degree at the American University of Beirut. For five years thereafter she served as BSTC’s resident nurse.
"On the eve of WWII–I chose this field so that I could secure a job for myself and also to be helpful to those around me," said Mrs. Der Ghazarian.
She then traveled to England to further specialize in her field. And–soon she was invited by her friend Aghavni Der Ghazarian to Chicago. She moved to Chicago and there in 1954 married Dikran Der Ghazarian. On a part-time basis–she worked at Avonston’s St. Francis Hospital and in the evenings helped her husband.
For the past ten years–the Der Ghazarians have contributed to the Navasartian Games.
The Homenetmen Western US Regional Executive offered its deepest gratitude for their sponsorship of the 23rd Annual Navasartian Games marking Homenetmen’s 80th Anniversary.