Roger K. Derderian died Sunday, Sept. 4, at his home. He was born in Hartford, Conn., the son of the late Krikor and Rebecca (Paloulian) Derderian. He worked as a stockbroker for Smith Barney for several years. Roger served honorably in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
Roger was a member of St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church in New Britain, the Trinity Club of Hartford, the Coventry Game Club, and the Hartford “Ararat” AYF Chapter. He was an avid oud and kanoon player, with a passion for Armenian and Middle Eastern music. He was a popular player with a number of Armenian musicians.
He is survived by his two brothers, Arthur Derderian and his wife Margaret of New Britain, Conn., and Carl and his wife Armenne Derderian of Watertown, Mass; his sister Lucille Hamparian and her husband Harry of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; a niece; and several nephews.
Because of his active involvement in his alma mater, memorial donations were made to the Krikor and Rebecca Derderian Book Fund at Trinity College.
Roger had a gift for writing and the following is a poignant example of that skill. It seems this was something he had written for himself. It was found in one of the files on his computer, and the family would like to share it with readers and friends. Roger loved to play the music we knew as children, not for compensation, but for the pure joy of it.
They are all gone now.
All that remains are the tattered and yellowed photographs, faded letters, and distant memories of the young Armenians who arrived on America’s shores the dawn of the 20th century. Forced to leave their ancestral homeland in the heart of the Ottoman Empire, they brought with them the yearning for a new life in a new land of hope and promise. They persevered in their newly adopted country despite the sadness of separation from family members whose fate was always in doubt and in many cases never to be known. But they also brought with them a rich, ancient language and culture that was multi-faceted and most notably expressed through their deep and abiding Christian faith—a faith whose roots trace back to biblical times. Who were these people? They were my ancestors. And their cultural legacy and gift to me was the music they brought with them—music inspired by Sayat Nova and Gomidas Vartabed. That was a gift I have cherished for the over 30 years I have been performing with other Armenian American musicians. Sometimes as I gaze out at the crowd at a dance or picnic, I envision the early 20th-century generation with their smiling faces, their animated conversation, their overflowing joy and sense of pride. But most of all, I remember and hear their ancestral voices.