Louise Manoogian Simone passed away at the age of 85 on February 18,announced the Manoogian-Simone Foundation on Tuesday. She dedicated her life to civic leadership, philanthropy, and was first and foremost passionate about the promotion of Armenian culture and heritage.
Most who knew her will remember her as an intelligent, outspoken, witty woman who strived for excellence in herself and others. The driving principle in all that she did was to beneficially impact people lives and she achieved that goal many times over.
Louise was born in Detroit, Michigan to Alex and Marie Manoogian. Her father Alex, an Armenian immigrant who left Turkey after the Armenian Genocide, developed the Delta single-handed faucet and went on to become one of America’s leading industrialists as the founder of MASCO corporation. Upon achieving business success, Alex used his resources to work tirelessly for the benefit of the Armenian people worldwide.
Louise inherited her parents’ passion for Armenians, which led her to follow in her father’s footsteps and serve on the board of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs around the world. In 1982, Louise made her first trip to Armenia, then still a Soviet Republic. She quickly fell in love with the country and over the next few years, returned frequently, bringing others with her, whether it be to make documentaries or to connect and contribute in other ways. Her brother, Richard Manoogian, joined her in supporting a number of projects in Armenia.
In 1988, after a devastating earthquake hit Armenia, killing 25,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands wounded and homeless, Louise was on the first U.S. cargo plane delivering relief supplies and rescue teams to the disaster area. She spearheaded the disaster relief on behalf of AGBU. An iconic picture of her standing in the ruins near the epicenter of the quake is remembered by many affected by the disaster.
In 1989, Louise was elected the international president of AGBU and began directing operations in 31 countries and 74 cities and oversaw the building of and continued funding of schools, churches, scout programs and services for Armenians worldwide. She opened an office in Yerevan, Armenia and when Armenia became an independent country following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Louise through AGBU and her own resources focused efforts on rebuilding a newly independent homeland. She was a charter board member and major benefactor of the American University of Armenia in Yerevan.
After a million miles traveling the world to oversee operations and projects, in 2002 Louise retired as President of AGBU. However, she continued her huge charitable efforts through the Manoogian Simone Foundation working with, among others, the Armenian Apostolic Church, reconstructing and maintaining hospitals, schools, children’s and cultural centers and historical monuments. And as was always a theme throughout her life, Louise was a significant supporter of the arts and many artists.
Though she was most passionate about Armenian causes, Louise was also a great benefactor to American Universities, Museums and cultural institutions, including the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and the Detroit Institute of Arts. She received many honors throughout her life, among them the Ellis Island Medal Of Honor.
She is survived by a brother, three children and two grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to American University of Armenia (American University of Armenia Corporation,1000 Broadway, Ste. 280 Oakland, CA 94607).