Ardashes (Arthur) Avedis Aykanian of Laguna Hills, formerly of Wilbraham, Mass., passed away in his home on Sept. 10.
Ardashes was born in Whitinsville, Mass. on July 1, 1923 to Armenian Genocide survivors Avedis and Gadar (Mangassarian) Aykanian of Prapert (Sepastia), Armenia.
Ardashes and his family spent their early years in Whitinsville, attending grammar school there and spending time with his uncle Krikor who took him under his wings and taught him the shoe repair trade. It was in his uncle’s shop that Ardashes had one of his first jobs and where his curiosity for creating and fabricating tools and machinery was developed.
Ardashes’ father Avedis, a moulder working for Whitin Machine Works, died in 1935 after a long illness when Ardashes was 12 years old. After Avedis’ death, the family moved to Indian Orchard and his mother married Nishan Tanelian. The Aykanian/Tanelian family was instrumental in building the Springfield/Indian Orchard Armenian community—a role which Ardashes and his family aptly stepped into and dedicated many years to.
He graduated from Technical High School in Springfield in 1941. While in high school he worked at Perkins Machine and Gear and then following high school continued to work there as a machinist. In 1944 he was enlisted in the military and chose the Navy Air Corps. He served as a Navy aviation machinist from 1944-1946, training in N.Y, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. He was later stationed in Quonset Point, R.I. to serve in a carrier aircraft service unit. It was his work in the Navy and his love of planes that prompted him to obtain his private pilot’s license in the early 1980’s.
Following military service, Ardashes attended and received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1950 and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1951. While at MIT, he was recruited to carry out research in uranium at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee.
Ardashes was a Tzeghagron of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Springfield/Indian Orchard “Haig” chapter and later joined the Murad gomideh. Throughout his 58 years in Springfield, Ardashes would serve as a Board of Trustee member and chairman, church choir director, National Representative Assembly delegate, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) member, ARF Eastern Region Central Committee member/advisor to the AYF, and supporter of Camp Haiastan, among other activities. AYF members respected Unger Ardash and welcomed his involvement in the organization.
Starting in 1951, Ardashes began working at the Monsanto Chemical Corporation as a research engineer and became a research specialist in 1959. He specialized in plastic and extrusion. While at Monsanto he was responsible for the development of the process of manufacturing Foam Core. The die used in the Foam Core process is still called the Aykanian die. He holds several patents from his time there.
In 1967, he co-founded the Flexible Plastic Straw Corporation in Ludlow, Mass., after designing and building the machinery to produce the first flexible plastic straw. In 1968 he also invented the spoonstraw which is now part of the Museum of Modern Art collection in New York. Ardashes also had a U.S. patent and trademark on his Stay-bent flexible plastic straw. In 1975, Ardashes received the UMass Engineering Alumni Association Award where he was referred to as an “engineer’s engineer.”
Upon moving to California in 1981, Ardashes continued his work as an engineer, especially consulting with various companies. He also continued his involvement in the local Armenian community as a member of the church, ARF, Armenian Educational Foundation, Armenian Festival of Orange County, etc.
In 1990 he began work as a consultant for Western Waste Industries on developing new designs for their trucks and compactor systems. More recently he served as chief engineer with Bio-Energy in Hawaii since 2006. With his brother-in-law Kosti, he had been developing a large scale process of converting waste to energy using algae as a means of bio fuel. In 1990 he began work as a consultant for Western Waste Industries on developing new designs for their trucks and compactor systems. More recently he served as chief engineer with Bio-Energy in Hawaii since 2006. With his brother-in-law Kosti, he had been developing a large scale process of converting waste to energy using algae as a means of bio fuel.
In 1990 he began work as a consultant for Western Waste Industries on developing new designs for their trucks and compactor systems. More recently he served as chief engineer with BioEnergy in Hawaii since 2006. With his brother-in-law he spent the last several years developing a large scale process of converting waste to energy using algae as a means of bio fuel conversion.
Ardashes’ accomplishments are many. He has over 40 patents, but was most proud of working with his childhood friend and dermatologist Setrag Zacarian in the 60’s when they completed early work on developing a cryosurgical spray for the treatment of skin cancer. He was also proud to serve as Armenian Educational Foundation president when the UCLA Chair of Modern Armenian History (later the Richard Hovanissian Chair) was established in 1986. His hobbies included playing the violin, amateur radio, golf, tennis, sailing, camping, fishing, crosswords, and especially reading. Over the years, as an expert woodworker, he created pieces such as rocking horses, chairs, door handles, desks, tavloo boards, high chairs, cradles which were lovingly made for friends and relatives.
Ardashes came from very modest beginnings. He developed a strong work ethic as a young child which continued throughout his life. He’ll be remembered as a practical and humble man, a true gentleman, and loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend.
Ardashes was predeceased by his first wife Angel, his younger sister Aroxy, and younger brother Ara.
He leaves behind his wife Araxy and her daughters Haygoush and Maral; his children: Christopher, wife Carole; Aram and wife Hilary; Melanie and husband Gary Donoian; Seda and husband Edward Matevosian; six grandchildren and one great-grandson; numerous relatives and friends.
Donations in his honor can be made to: The Armenian Educational Foundation or Forty Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church of Santa Ana.