By Ned Apigian
Larry and I are both graduates of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) “University,” from the “College” of the AYF, the ARF’s youth organization. It was there that we first meet, in 1959, he as a member of the Detroit Christopher chapter, and I as a member of the combined Detroit Mourad-Zavarian chapter.
The AYF program then was—as it is now—in Armenian history and culture. We majored in the loss of our political rights in the Ottoman Empire and the USSR, and the injustice of the forgotten genocide of the Armenian people. There, in the AYF, all of us become servants for the Armenian community, in whichever one we may have resided. Larry learned that lesson well, going on to serve as both a leader and a participant in community life.
Larry never joined the ARF (certainly, many did not); however, he subscribed to all of its many goals and aspirations, and he was an avid supporter. Based on my 50-year observation of him, he was a better non-member than most, having managed the ARF property in Detroit for years without compensation. Larry chose the community service route, which was the second goal of the AYF “College” of the ARF “University.” In this mission, he succeeded greatly; we were to go on to lead work, or to follow, or at least to be present—all of which he did successfully for 60 long years.
As I see it, Larry was part of a great patriotic Armenian parade of AYF graduates who were and are the backbone of our collective U.S. Armenian community life. Larry was a shining example in Detroit. He was not the usual MC at our functions, he was not the speaker of the day, he did not write articles for publication or write a book. In short, he did not lead the parade as the drum major. But as a worker and a doer, he played most of the instruments in the band and proudly marched in the parade.
Time and time again, when the strutting drum major turned around to change the tune, he would find Larry playing “tuba” (as a Church Board member). When he turned around again to change the tune, Larry was playing the “trombone” (as a Golf Committee Member). The next time he turned to change the song, Larry was playing the “saxophone” (as a AYF Booster Club leader). And when the drum major turned for the last song, Larry was playing the “trumpet” (as manager of the Armenian Community Center).
When he was not playing his many instruments in the band, Larry also marched in the section of workers and doers behind the band. Unfortunately, the band is not large. And though the marchers section, consisting of workers, is larger, it not large enough…
Then, there are the observers of the parade, and they are important too. They are the Armenian community for which we are marching. Without them, there would be no need for the parade, because, after all, the purpose of the parade is to motivate the community into action. There could be a lot more of them. They do not have to play an instrument, or march in the great patriotic parade as Larry did, but they could learn to march in the parade, too…
We, the Armenian community, need all major categories: the drum majors (central leadership) the band (local leadership); the marchers (the workers and doers); and, finally, the observers (the community at-large).
Later in life, with his health declining, Larry could not play in the band anymore, or march in the parade, but he always attended and was a loyal observer, watching the parade go by, cheering the band leaders and the march of workers and doers as they passed by in quickstep.
Larry had many achievements in life, too many to list, including outside of the Armenian Community, except in this allegorical way.
You can be sure Larry is marching up above and playing in the band with all the other ARF/AYF deceased members who had passed before him—including, and especially, his wife, Alice, with whom he is finally reunited.