Jirair Hovagimian passed away on Oct. 25. He led a full Armenian life. He was the beloved husband of Anahid for 41 years; the loving father of Aram (wife, Sosi), Seta, and Raffi; and the dear grandfather of Vrej. He was also the loving brother of Hrant and Keghanoush.
Jirair was born in Baghdad, Iraq, on July 1, 1943. After losing his father Dikran at an early age, he immersed himself in the local Armenian community, frequenting the agoump, and becoming a member of Homenetmen and later the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), of which he was a lifelong member. He worked and supported his family in his youth, and attended Al-Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad before immigrating to the United States on Feb. 10, 1972. From there, he established himself in Boston and later Chicago. He married Anahid Rashidian on Aug. 10, 1974, in Beirut, Lebanon. They returned to Chicago eventually settling in Philadelphia, Pa., where they started a dry cleaning business. Jirair became a U.S. citizen on July 20, 1977—a day he proudly referred to as his “second birthday.” He served his country from 2004 through 2006 as an English-Arabic translator in Qatar and later Iraq.
Philadelphia quickly came to be Jirair and Anahid’s second home where, like in Iraq, he immersed himself in all aspects of community life. He served for many years on the local ARF Gomideh and Homenetmen Executive, and on countless committees. He served on the St. Gregory Board of Trustees from 1985-89. A proud member of the Philadelphia Armenian community, “Amo Jiro” could be found at the Seroonian Community Center on Friday nights, a community function on Saturday nights, and at St. Gregory Church on Sundays. In later years, he was a fixture on the Armenian Heritage Cruise with his tri-color tracksuit; he was crowned Tavlou champion in 2011.
Jirair was proudest of his family—his wife Anahid, three children, nieces and nephews and especially the light of his life, his grandson Vrej.
Expressions of sympathy may be made to St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church by visiting http://saintgregory-philly.org
It is with great sadness that the ARF Philadelphia Gomideh announces the passing of longtime ARF member Unger Jirair Hovagimian. The Gomideh extends its heartfelt condolences to Ungers Aram and Raffi Hovagimian and their family.
The ARF Eastern Region Central Committee Extends its deepest condolences to ARF Eastern Region Central Committee member Unger Aram Hovagimian, and his family, on the passing of longtime Unger, Jirair Hovagimian.
The editors and staff of the Hairenik and Armenian Weekly newspapers extend their deepest condolences to the family of Jirair Hovagimian, a longtime supporter of the newspapers.
The AYF-YOARF Eastern Region Central Executive extends its heartfelt condolences to the Hovagimian family on the passing of Unger Jirair Hovagimian, father of Unger Aram Hovagimian, ARF Eastern Region Central Committee liaison to the AYF-YOARF, and Unger Raffi Hovagimian, former chair of the AYF Eastern Region.