The AYF Spirit Award and Two Lifetime AYFers

By Harry Derderian

With smiles and energy, Anto Bahian and the late Khacheg Topalian were everywhere in the Providence community for a long time.

Peter Tashjian Alexan Topalian accepting the Varadian Spirit Award for their grandfather Kacheg Topalian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)
Peter Tashjian Alexan Topalian accepting the Varadian Spirit Award for their grandfather Kacheg Topalian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

It is natural that these two were named recipients of the AYF Spirit Award, along with Penny Giragosian.

An active member of the AYF, Anto has missed attending only two Olympics since 1947, cheering on the Providence team and enjoying his beloved AYF culture.

“I am happy and thankful for this award,” he said. “I am thrilled that Khacheg is recognized also. We served on church boards together many times and worked together on events.”

Anto was a participant in basketball and participated in the Olympics. Not a natural athlete, his contribution was participating and encouraging others.

Far more than that, he is the “Varantian” softball team head cheerleader, may be the first into the V-Ball, and helps in AYF fundraising.

Proudly, Anto has been part of every church bazaar committee since he was 16 and enjoys the comradery of working in the kitchen with fellow volunteers. Anto at the grill for church picnics is a repeated sight. He truly enjoys volunteering.




Always found helping at picnics, bazaars, and AYF events, Khacheg’s (“Furcha’s”) love of contributing to his community started as an AYFer. Posthumously, this longtime activist is recognized for what he did, what he represented, and his many years of being a consummate volunteer in anything that happened in the proud Providence community.

He was continually on AYF and church committees, doing anything that needed attention.

He cooked, he cleaned, he skewered the meat, he helped set up at 7 a.m. in the morning.

Khacheg’s years of volunteerism more than qualifies him as a “pillar.”

He was an AYF Junior and Senior member, served on chapter executive several times, and chaired AYF Convention several times. He chaired the 1951 Providence Olympic committee and over the period of 1969-90, missed only two Olympics, no matter which city.

“Community Spirit”—along with Furcha—was Khacheg’s “middle name.”

He helped build Camp Haiastan and was a founding member.

Devoted to family and a successful business, his spirit of love of the AYF and community was passed along to his children and grandchildren.

Anto and Khacheg are part of a line of Providence community members who participated and gave back.

With that long time involvement, there is no better measure of love of community.

Credit the youth of Providence for remembering.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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