Harry Setian: “You Do What You Can”

A photo of a billboard featuring Harry Setian of St. Gregory’s Armenian Church, located at the intersection of Main Street and Stony Hill Road in the quaint section of Indian Orchard, adjacent to a bridge connecting Ludlow and Indian Orchard.

Harry Setian, a native of Indian Orchard and resident of nearby Wilbraham, was a patient some years at the respected Life Care Center of Wilbraham, a well-known rehabilitation facility. He “rehabbed” there after two knee operations.

Putting it mildly, he truly appreciated the care he received: “…the people were great…”, he recalls with fondness. This was his second sense of appreciation from the facility.

Prior to that many years ago, his mother—known in the community as “Degeen Maree”—was a patient.

He truly appreciated the care his mother  received: “…the people were great…mom was well taken care of… many members of our community have been here…”, he recalls with his trademark little boy smile.

He reciprocated in appreciation for the good care his mother received and became a volunteer in many respects.

For some 30 years, he has donated his time and skills to help maintain the Life Care facility.

“Harry has built us wheelchair accessible ramps as well as outside planters that are used by patients and  residents to grow vegetables and flowers, uplifting spirits,” explained Dennis Lopata, executive director of Life Care. “Over the years, he has also helped on numerous other projects to restore or repair our facility, including our gazebo, as well as manning the facility gift shop for many years with his wife Liz. If he sees something needs to be done, he does it.”

“You do what you can do,” Harry says, shyly.

Some of his time at Life Care is spent chatting with the patients, dropping into rooms to say “Hello.”

“A lot of people here don’t have anyone. We have to help,” he says.

There is also the Harry Setian of the Indian Orchard St Gregory’s Armenian church community.

In Armenian communities, there are volunteers and then there are volunteers.

Indian Orchard’s Harry Setian is in the category of volunteers

The 84 year-old Wilbraham, Mass. resident grew up in Indian Orchard, active in all aspects of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and a standout in the AYF Olympic pole vault competition.

Harry retired from the Springfield school system after many years as an industrial arts instructor. He built the home he shares with wife Elizabeth, the former Liz Sahagian, another former AYFer from  Marlborough, Massachusetts.

For countless years, Harry has been an engine of the Indian Orchard community and its St. Gregory’s church: doing repairs, cooking at church picnics, moving tables after church for coffee hour, cleaning the grounds, clearing snow and repairing the church as needed. His volunteering is a full time job to maintain St. Gregory’s, the focus of the proud community.

“You do what you can” has always been Harry’s golden rule.

In respect to his 24/7 devotion, the community named the church hall after him.

This gesture reflects not only Harry’s devotion, but by extension the Setian family’s role in Indian Orchard over decades.

Liz also been active for many years, whether for the church or any of the organizations; son Bedros is the church deacon.

“Harry is a true Christian and has an abundance of good will and caring for his community family and fellow man,” said Rev. Bedros Shitilian of St. Gregory’s.

The unassuming gentleman from Indian Orchard is the consummate volunteer.

“You do what you can do…”, the quiet, shy gentleman states.

Well done, “Harry Set.”

You’ve done plenty…and plenty more.

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Harry Derderian

Harry Derderian is a native of Indian Orchard, Mass and resident of Farmington Hills, Mich. He is a member of the Marketing faculty at Eastern Michigan University as well as adjunct professor of marketing at University of Michigan-Dearborn and adjunct Professor of Business at Schoolcraft Community College.
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9 Comments

  1. A wonderful article about a man who epitomizes humility and service. This piece features two Harry I have known and respected for decades. Harry “Set” is man I have looked up to all my life. To Harry no job is too small or too big for the community. He has lived those words for decades. Harry Derderian was a college student when I first joined the AYF. He and his sister mentored me to ensure my entry was smooth. I will always be indebted. Besides As a teen I got to play basketball with a college guy. Harry Setian established a work ethic that many have followed that sustains the small communities….. do what you can! God bless them.

  2. I have a file in my heart for many good deeds Harry has done for my mother, father, brother Mike, sister Arsh and Lefty and I. Cousin Susan Piligian Lantzakis,❤️

  3. There is not enough adjectives in the English language to describe the dedication and work that Harry has done for decades. It would be great if we could clone him. We love you Harry.

  4. What a wonderful article about a great man. I do however share a good common trait with Harry S. That I’d like to point out. We were both INDUSTRIAL ARTS TEACHERS. That’s the closest I can come as he far outpaces me when it comes to doing volunteer work for your fellow man. God bless he and his wife for all they do.

    • What a wonderful article about a great man. I do however share a good common trait with Harry S.. that I ‘d like to point out. We were both INDUSTRIAL ARTS TEACHERS. That’s the closest I can come as he far outpaces me when ;it comes to doing volunteer work for your fellow man. God bless Harry and his wife for all they do.

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