John Nazarian passed away on January 22, 2022 after a brief hospitalization in Los Angeles, California. He was 84 years old.
John was born on December 28, 1937 in Aleppo, Syria. After graduating from high school in 1955, he moved to Los Angeles to continue his education. He aspired to become a writer and participated in the Theater Arts of Pasadena Playhouse. In 1963, he was cast in the Armenian film Aryunabardeh, playing the role of a fedayee.
John was married and blessed with two sons: Vartan Nazar and John Sayat Nova.
In 1970, John abandoned his studies in film and theater and began working as a probation counselor, where he helped many Armenian prisoners. He retired from his probation work after 21 years.
John was instrumental in sponsoring the immigration of his parents, siblings and their families as well as many relatives from Armenia to the United States and their settlement in Los Angeles.
With the passing of John, I have lost a very good friend of almost 70 years. He and I had shared a deep and abiding friendship since our youth. John was also my beloved brother-in-law since 1959, when I married his sister Juliette.
John Nazarian will be remembered in the following ways.
John Nazarian was a handsome, intelligent and a good gentleman. God had endowed John with a beautiful body, an intelligent mind and a gentle soul. Physically he was strong and tough. Mentally he was sharp and alert. He had an unusual ability for thinking and planning. He was a man of strong will, and he was determined in his convictions. He was a kind of character who would say, like the German writer Goethe, “Give me all the benefits of your convictions if you have any, but keep your doubts to yourself, for I have enough of my own.” John had a heart of gold. He had a noble soul. He was a man of honesty and integrity.
Second, John was an unusual mixture of contrasting character traits. He was a private person, yet very outgoing and friendly. He carried a lot of pain within and yet could smile and be joyful on the outside. He could be tough and demanding, yet very compassionate and understanding. He could disagree with others, but he was not disagreeable. He was magnanimous even toward those who hurt him.
Third, John was a genuine and concerned friend. He related himself closely to many friends, regardless of their racial or religious differences. He had friends from all walks of life, ranging from common laborers to the elite in society.
Fourth, John was always a defender of the underdog. He always thought there is greatness in championing the poor, the downtrodden and the outcast. He was their compassionate and understanding friend. He helped them morally and financially. His home was open to them and he spent time with them.
Fifth, John was a versatile and multitalented person. He could sing, dance and act with ease. He had remarkable artistic talents which unfortunately did not come to full fruition. He empathized and befriended some talented artists, writers, actors and supported them morally and financially.
Sixth, John had a wonderful loving heart toward others. He tried to obey the Biblical commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Such a statement may seem almost an exaggeration until we observe the life of a man like John Nazarian; then we begin to understand it. Love as it was lived out in him was much more than a sentimental emotion. It was a moral fiber and courage. It was greatness and kindness and warmth. It was counsel for the confused, friendship for the lonely and aid for the impoverished.
John leaves behind his son Vartan and his wife Sarah; his son Sayat; his grandson Jacob; and his many nephews, nieces, cousins, relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be held at Forest Lawn in Hollywood, California on Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 3:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts are designated to AMAA (John Nazarian Endowment Fund) and to Children of Armenia Fund (COAF).