The Rotary Club of La Verne officially unveiled the Dr. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan Memorial Peace Garden at Mils Park in La Verne, California on Saturday, June 11. The memorial’s focal point comprises of a peace pole with the words “May peace prevail on earth” written in four languages, each one a language spoken by the late Dr. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan.
Former and present city mayors, past and present Rotary International District Governors and local Rotary chapter presidents, local government officials, law enforcement and La Verne Fire Fighters, alumni of the American Armenian International College, past and present Mashdots College students, family, and friends graced the dedication event.
The ceremony began with Angela Amirian, a Mashdots College alumna, playing “Amazing Grace” and the traditional Armenian song “Kilikia” on the violin. La Verne Rotarian and Master of Ceremonies, Debbie Deacy, welcomed the guests and Rev. Dr. Johnny Der-Yeghiayan, son of the late Dr. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan, opened the event with a prayer.
Dr. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan’s eldest son, James Der-Yeghiayan, followed with speaking about the life of his father. Sharon Johnson-May, President of the Rotary Club of La Verne, then described the impetus for and journey to build a memorial in Dr. Der-Yeghiayan’s honor. La Verne City Mayor Tim Hepburn described a man whose life pursuing peace impacted both his local community and the world.
Rev. Dr. Johnny Der-Yeghiayan thanked all of the donors for the generous donations made to complete the main construction of the memorial, and Angela Der-Yeghiayan, wife of Dr. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan, followed with heartfelt words of gratitude and meaning of the memorial to her family. The event then concluded with a ribbon cutting ceremony where singer Lisa Sheasby, President Elect of the Rotary Club of Upland, sang “Amazing Grace” and “The Lord’s Prayer,” while Angela Der-Yeghiayan and Sharon Johnson-May cut the ribbon, surrounded by key figures in the creation of the memorial.
The memorial’s construction is approximately 90 percent funded, but additional funds are being raised to help complete the project. As the La Verne Rotary President Sharon Johnson-May explained, the hope is that the memorial will last over one hundred years. If there is any interest in donating, one can still do so on the Garbis Memorial GoFuneMe page or by sending checks to the La Verne Rotary Foundation (Memo Line: Garbis Memeorial) to P.O. Box 151, La Verne, California 91750. All donations are tax-deductible.