Sireli Unger Jack,
Lav esenk, deh lav elank Unger! It has been just over a year since I last saw you and I need to tell you some things. First of all, I want to apologize to you for not speaking at your hokehjash. I feared that I would not get through it and not be able to give you the tribute you so deserved. Many spoke of your tireless commitment to the AYF, the many years that you served as AYF advisor. The number of years you worked with the youth to train for the AYF Olympics. The years you spent on the Board of Camp Haiastan, providing the youth with a safe place to be for the summer, eternal memories, and long-lasting friendships. You did the same for adults as a member of the Pocono Committee of the Philadelphia Gomideh, providing a place for families and friends to gather over the summer and be in an Armenian environment. A member of the Board of Directors of the Armenian Youth Foundation Inc., as well as time spent as a Board of Trustee member at St. Gregory’s and many years as a Yerespokhan. The achievements that you garnered while in these positions will live on for a long time. The time and effort you spent all spoke volumes of your selflessness and your love for the youth, the church, and your heritage. All this being accomplished while raising a family along with your beloved wife, Armine. I cannot tell you how many times I have smiled over the years, watching you and Armine take to the dance floor. You both always had smiles on your faces!
I came to know you better after I became an Unger and began taking on responsibility myself. Early on, I knew you as the Unger that juggled reading the business section of the paper, keeping abreast of the market, and keeping an ear on what was being said at the meeting. Later I knew you as the selfless Unger who took on any number of assignments and completed them. Someone I could ask questions to and advice from when needed. If you saw me bend from my position, you would be there to support me and offer advice. You were selfless indeed.
You had a particular knack at making people see a different side of an argument. A gift to opening their eyes to a different perspective that amazed me. When called on to voice your opinion on a subject, I would marvel at the way you would make the others in the room reverse their opinions on a subject by laying out why their views were wrong, without actually stating as much. I, too, changed my mind about a subject many times because of what you pointed out.
Because neither of us knew how little time you had, I need to tell you how much you have meant to me. Your caring after the death of my parents meant a tremendous amount to me. Your help with managing their affairs was a godsend because I had no experience in these matters. Funny part was, it was your father’s advice to my father that got him into investments to begin with. You showed interest in my education and my future. You never openly criticized me, though at times you may not have agreed with me.
The last few years before your passing I had been struggling with intense personal issues that you helped me with. Your advice was paramount to making the decisions that needed to be made. You listened to what I had to say, broke down and simplified the issues, and showed me what I knew I needed to do. I just needed to hear it from someone else.
As Tracey Lawrence sings in “Time Marches On”: “A star is born, a star burns out, the only thing that stays the same is everything changes, everything changes.” While no man lives forever, the gauge for how a man has lived is to measure his impact on those around him. From my perspective, I can state that you have made a tremendous impact on both the Armenian community life in general, and in particular my own life. I guess what I wanted to say in not so many words is: Sireli Unger Jack, Thank You!
I too would like to apologize, for not at least calling Cindy, Dave, and Armine to offer my condolences.
I was the guy who was almost constantly pissed off at Jack, my ARF advisor while in the AYF Sebouh Chapter. Things mellowed and he became “less wrong”.
And certainly, his dedication was tremendous.
Would that all we Diasporans put in 10% of the time he did.
Thank you, Jack, belatedly.