Born in Paterson, N.J., in 1929, Dr. Jack Hachigian attended elementary school there and graduated from Eastside High School. He was an altar boy starting at age six, was ordained as a deacon in the Armenian Apostolic Church in 1951, and spearheaded the successful campaign to build a new church in Westchester, N.Y.
He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in 1950 and took his first job at the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, as a Research Assistant to Dr. C. S. Wu, a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, Dr. Hachigian attended electronics school for one year in Biloxi, Miss. Receiving his Ravens Wings, he was sent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Research and Development Command), where he worked on the design of electronic warfare and reconnaissance equipment. He was the Unit Chief responsible for developing the first spy satellites and electronic data processing using computers.
Leaving the Air Force, he completed his Ph.D. at Indiana University while writing his dissertation at Brown University. His specialties were in Markov Processes, computer simulation of Random Processes, and the sterilization of food. He published 26 research papers in leading journals and taught advanced mathematics as a professor at such institutions as Indiana University, Cornell University, and CUNY. He also served as the president of the American Statistical Association.
Dr. Hachigian retired to San Diego in 1990. In retirement, his interest turned to creating ceramic crosses based on miniatures found in ancient Armenian manuscripts (9th-14th centuries), and created more than 20 designs. His works have been purchased and can be found all over the United States, Europe, and in Zimbabwe. He also published three articles on ceramics, with a front cover review article on the works of Wang Chen Wen (a now-famous ceramist in China) and a piece about his ceramic crosses, in Ceramics Monthly magazine.
Keenly aware of his heritage and the history of the Armenian people, and having been ordained as a deacon in 1951, he designed a monument to commemorate their tragic past based on their three pillars of strength: their culture, faith, and language. His passionate efforts drove the building of several pieces of the monument, which is scheduled to be installed in 2015 for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
For many decades Dr. Hachigian was a member of St. John Garabed Armenian Church in San Diego, where he served as Parish Council chairman and spearheaded the campaign to pay off (“burn”) the mortgage. He was an advisor for several years to Junior Achievement of Armenia, and he organized several years of the Armenian Opera Night in San Diego whenever Armenian vocalists made appearances with the San Diego Opera. He was also a member of the Knights of Vartan, an Armenian fraternal organization, and was instrumental in the formation of its San Diego chapter. He served as a member of the Trex Armenian Fraternity since 1991. He also authored his Musa Dagh-themed cookbook, Secrets of an Armenian Kitchen.
In 2006, he received an Encyclical (“Guntag”) from His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, honoring him for his years of dedicated service to the Armenian church and community.
Dr. Hachigian is survived by his children, Garo Hachigian and Nina Hachigian (Joe Deegan-Day), his two grandchildren, four nephews, many grand nieces and nephews and cousins.
Internment will be held on Tues., May 30 at 12 p.m. at Fort Rosecrans Military Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the St. John Garabed Trust Fund, 4473 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92116.
Jack was a dear friend, a true gentleman, and a shining example of what an American-Armenian life should be. We are very sad to learn of his departure. May he rest in peace.
Ashot and Marianna Melik-Martirosian