Philanthropist Assadour “Aso” O. Tavitian, who, through his foundation, sponsored the training of hundreds of Armenian government officials at prestigious American universities passed away on Wednesday.
The cause of death was not disclosed, according to an obituary in the Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, but Tavitian had undergone treatment for cancer, according to Rachel Kyte, the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, where Tavitian had set up a program to train Armenian government officials.
The news of Tavitian’s passing was announced Wednesday by His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians who called him a “great philanthropist, humanist, patriot and beloved friend of the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin and the Armenian people,” in a statement.
“The Armenian Church had a special place in his multifaceted activity,” said Karekin II, describing Tavitian’s support as a unique “tribute to the efforts aimed at strengthening the national identity and spirit.”
“Our beloved Aso also supported the education and upbringing of the new generation with a view of seeing a stronger Armenia. Through the Tavitian Foundation, about 350 young people from Armenia have continued their higher education at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and continue to bring their service to our homeland in various fields,” added Karekin II.
President Armen Sarkissian and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also offered their tributes to Tavitian in separate statements.
“Aso Tavitian was a special bridge linking the Homeland and Diaspora. He was not born in Armenia, never lived in Armenia but always lived by Armenia, visiting it many times and supporting the Fatherland in many ways,” said President Sarkissian.
“For Tavitian the benefactor, the vision of an advanced and developed Armenia was a priority which he was calling to life through different projects, particularly by funding educational programs,” said Sarkissian. “Through the assistance of the Tavitian Foundation multiple young Armenians were educated and trained at the prestigious American universities, such as the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.”
Sarkissian said that Tavitian always spoke of the necessity to help Armenia and the Armenian people in every possible way, adding, “he always viewed the Fatherland and Diaspora as one soul and one body.”
“He [Tavitian] was one of the most prominent figures of the modern Armenian Diaspora and the Armenian community of the United States, who was known not only as a talented scientist and businessman, but also as a generous philanthropist,” said Prime Minister Pashinyan in a statement.
“His long years of support, especially to Armenia, deserves great praise and gratitude. Some three hundred civil servants, civil society representatives were educated and trained at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts during Armenia’s independence,” said Pashinyan. “Aso Tavitian lived a meaningful life. His life story and high values are exemplary for our society, especially for the younger generation.”
Tavitian was born in Bulgaria in 1940 to parents who were survivors of the 1915 Genocide.
He immigrated to New York in 1961 as a Cold War refugee. The same year he received a scholarship to attend Columbia University. After receiving his master’s degree in nuclear engineering, Tavitian co-founded SyncSort Inc., one of the first software development companies that emerged after IBM unbounded its software, and served as its CEO from 1975 to 2008.
The company played a pivotal role in the development of the software industry. In 1995 he established the Tavitian Foundation which provides scholarships to students of Armenian and Bulgarian origin and sponsors projects that focus on the development of the Republic of Armenia.