In Memoriam: Edward Avedisian 1937-2022

Edward Avedisian (1937 – 2022)

PARAMUS, NJ – The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) is saddened to announce the passing of Board and committee member Edward Avedisian on December 7, 2022. Mr. Avedisian was a longtime supporter, founder and principal benefactor of AMAA’s Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School and Community Center, 

“Mr. Ed Avedisian was a humble man with a very generous heart and an immense love for Armenia and Armenian heritage. His legacy will remain alive for all of us and especially the generations of students at the Avedisian School in Yerevan. Truly, this is a big loss for the Armenian nation, but we hope that his life will be an example for others to follow,” reflects AMAA Board of Directors president Dr. Nazareth Darakjian.

The son of Armenian Genocide survivors, Avedisian was born in 1937 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He grew up in an immigrant neighborhood where he attended public school and served as president of his graduating class. He furthered his education on a scholarship to Boston University.

Avedisian’s professional career spanned four disciplines: performing symphonic musician, university professor, arts administrator, consummate investor and philanthropist. For 35 years, Avedisian was a clarinetist with the Boston Pops, as well as 43 seasons with the Boston Ballet Orchestra. He also appeared outside the United States as a soloist with the Armenian State Philharmonic, the Armenian Radio and TV Orchestra and the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia. He was also a visiting artist to Boston’s sister city of Hangzhou, China.

Zaven Khanjian, Edward & Pamela Avedisian and Dr. Nazareth Darakjian

AMAA executive director and CEO Zaven Khanjian states, “AMAA is honored and privileged for being long associated institutionally and personally with Board member and philanthropist Edward Avedisian. As a humble servant of God, a human being and Armenian, we celebrate the gift that God has given our people and humanity – the gift of Edward Avedisian. His greatness is not in his philanthropy or the genius of the investor that he was but in the humble and incredible humanist Ed was. We shall dearly miss him but vow to continue his legacy through generations of illuminated children passing through the gates of institutions established and/or supported by Ed.” 

Attending Avedisian School graduation with the graduates

In 1998, Edward and Pamela Avedisian founded the Avedisian School in the Malatia-Sepastia district of Yerevan, operated by the AMAA, as a tuition-free kindergarten for students from economically disadvantaged families. The current K-12 grade school building, which was officially opened on September 1, 2014, is the first building in the Republic of Armenia to achieve a Silver LEED Certification and also awarded the LEED Earth Designation. The school was Avedisian’s dream to honor his Genocide survivor parents, Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian, who had placed an extremely high value on education throughout their lives. It is a living legacy to educate the next generations in an environment which fosters the love of learning through love, respect, service, integrity and diligence.

Avedisian School principal Melanya Geghamyan presents a portrait painting to Edward Avedisian

Avedisian’s philanthropy was vast and deep rooted, as it served countries located on both sides of the Atlantic. His many contributions to Armenia include philanthropic investments to the American University of Armenia, the Dzidzernagapert Genocide Memorial and the Nork Marash Children’s Cardiac Hospital, as well as the complete renovation of a school in the Haghtanag Village. Avedisian was twice awarded the Movses Khorenatsi Medal by President Serge Sargsyan. In the United States, his outstanding commitment of service and philanthropy was recognized in 2016 when he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. In 2017, a gift was made to the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy (URI) in honor of his late brother Paramaz, which embodied the best of scholarship and fellowship. Recognizing Avedisian’s accomplishments and civic-minded values, URI bestowed him with an honorary doctorate degree in 2019. Avedisian was also a Board member of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), where he and Pamela were the principal benefactors of the newly-constructed NAASR headquarters, which opened in 2019 and named, not after themselves, but after one of the most distinguished intellectuals in the world, Vartan Gregorian. In January 2022, Rhode Island College was the recipient of a donation in honor of Avedisian’s sister, Zvart Onanian, naming the College of Nursing in her honor. A transformative gift was made in September 2022 to Boston University (BU) to support scholarships, endowed faculty chairs, and cutting-edge research and teaching. With this donation, the medical school was renamed “The Aram V. Chobanian & Edward Avedisian School of Medicine.” The donations mentioned are not comprehensive, but a testament to Avedisian’s vision and dedication to giving back, making quality education accessible and leaving the world a better place for future generations.

Edward Avedisian awarded Ellis Island Medal of Honor

A longtime resident of Lexington, Massachusetts, Avedisian is survived by his wife Pamela Wood Avedisian, his sister Zvart Onanian, his brother Paul Avedisian and extended family. He is predeceased by his parents Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian and his brother Paramaz Avedisian. A memorial is being planned for spring 2023.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made online to the AMAA toward the Avedisian School Endowment Fund or mailed to the AMAA at 31 W. Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652 (Memo: Avedisian School Endowment Fund).

Armenian Missionary Association of America
The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) was founded in 1918, in Worcester, MA, and incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization in 1920 in the State of New York. We are a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Our purpose is to serve the physical and spiritual needs of people everywhere, both at home and overseas. To fulfill this worldwide mission, we maintain a range of educational, evangelistic, relief, social service, church and child care ministries in 24 countries around the world.
Armenian Missionary Association of America

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  1. i am so, so sorry to hear about Eddie’s passing. I was fortunate to perform with him for a few decades and he’s been on my mind quite a bit recently.

    • Gregory,

      As I mentioned to my comment to Dan Troderman, I’m Ed’s niece and would appreciate having your contact info as I’m trying to assemble a list of musicians that played with Ed.
      I have fond memories of nights at the European following a performance for pizza and wine. Always great camaraderie!
      You can reach me at

  2. Ed and I were Pasquale Cardillo’s favorite students at Boston University, though musically we travelled in somewhat different directions. In Ed’s last days, I was able to express to him my pride on his benevolence to his family and all the needy recipients of his investments. G-d bless Ed.

    • Dan,
      I’m Ed’s niece Laurie Onanian and it warms my heart to hear you say that you two were his favorite students.
      He spoke so highly of Patsy and endowed a BUTI scholarship in his memory that I facilitated while working at BU.
      Please send me your contact info at my email which is

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