The way Boston College football is going the past couple years, the Eagles could surely use a guy like Harry Kushigian, even in his mid-70’s.
He still looks the part of that bruising lineman back more than half a century ago when he was playing his college ball at The Heights.
What’s even more amazing about the Rhode Islander is that after more than 50 years, he’s still getting rave notice of his exploits.
The September issue of The Rhode Island Echo contains a story titled “I Remember Harry Kushigian, All-American.” That would be during his high school days at Mount Pleasant before reaching Boston College.
The piece was written by his high school coach Lou Marciano who applauds Harry’s athleticism to this very day.
“I was honored and humbled by the article,” Kushigian tells us, “especially since it was written by my coach.”
The writer introduces the piece with a little background of Harry’s family history. When parents Haiganoush and Mugurditch Kushigian left their small villages of Erzeroum and Govdoon in Armenia, little did they realize that in 1938, they would marry each other and settle in the Mount Pleasant section of Providence, R.I.
Harry was one of four children who grew into a hulk—all 225 pounds of him—and became a 3-year tackle at Mount Pleasant.
In his senior year, Harry made the Rhode Island and High School All-American Teams. Unlike player specialists of today, he starred on both offense and defense, winning awards in both positions.
He was so talented that 25 colleges offered him scholarships. He chose West Point, a school he always admired with its patriotic implications for his immigrant parents who had escaped the Armenian Genocide.
It’s a story that few people know about Harry, including myself.
After his visit to be interviewed at West Point, he was enrolled in Mamlius Preparatory School for one year in preparation for admission to the Academy.
It was during this experience that he learned The Academy offered only Engineering degrees. Harry didn’t want to become an engineer.
He then contacted Mike Holovak, coach at Boston College, and found that his full scholarship offer was still available. He joined another Mount Pleasant football player (Bob Branca) with whom he played on two championship teams in Rhode Island.
After four successful years in the classroom and athletic field, he graduated in 1964 with a Business Degree and began work as an Insurance Broker and Retirement Planner.
In 1962 while attending an Armenian dance, he met his wife, the former Claire Tevekelian, and married two years later. The couple lived in North Providence for 10 years before moving to Warwick and now Cranston, where they are celebrating 52 years of wedded bliss.
Could it be because the Kushigians lived on a very special street called Lovers Lane?
Claire was originally from Newton, Mass. and was graduated from Simmons College in 1963. She worked most of her life in Human Resources.
One of my fondest Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Olympic memories took place on the tennis court some years back. I enjoyed covering the matches and watching new talent develop. On this day, there were two Kushigian girls in the finals—daughters Armine and Nairi.
There was Harry and Claire, cheering on both players, knowing they had eight points for Providence and would be securing two medals for the family treasure chest.
“Any preference as to who you would like to see become the champion?” Harry was asked.
“No difference to me,” he smiled. “One Kushigian is as good as the other.”
Armine graduated from Tolgate High and Boston College where she was an outstanding tennis player. Sister Nairi also played tennis at Tolgate and University of Rhode Island and became All-State.
The Kushigians have remained active in their Armenian community as members of Sts. Vartanantz Church where Harry has served on the Board of Trustees.
Among his many honors is the election to the Rhode Island Gridiron Club’s Hall of Fame and past president of the Boston College Alumni Association. He’s very proud of his involvement with the Todd Morsilli Foundation, assisting them in raising thousands of dollars for their charity fund.
“He’s been a credit to his parents, his teachers, coaches, communities and family,” lauded Marciano, his former coach.
There’s one other area we must mention—Harry’s beloved Camp Haiastan—where he chaired a reunion of do-gooders who were pioneers in the shape and development of this crown jewel.
As one who served on his committee, I can personally vouch for his commitment toward the welfare of our youth and the overall enrichment of this camp.
Well done, my friend!