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by Tom Vartabedian
LOWELL, Mass.-Every community has its faithful servant, the individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty to pave a better road for its members.
Aram Jeknavorian, center, was honored Dec. 8 by the Lowell 'Aharonian' Gomideh for his community service, including 50 years with the ARF. He is joined by brothers Armen, left, and Ara. Together, the Jeknavorian brothers have a combined total of 135 faithful years to the organization.
In Merrimack Valley, Aram Jeknavorian not only fits that mold, he breaks it.
The Lowell "Aharonian" Gomideh-the first organized ARF Committee of its kind in America-celebrated its 117th anniversary Dec. 8 at St. Gregory Church in North Andover.
A roomful of guests applauded Jeknavorian for his 50 years of unbridled service to the organization, beginning with his days as a Central Executive member with the AYF.
Over the interim, he has held every executive post possible. He has organized April 24th commemorations at Lowell City Hall; represented his committee dutifully on genocide committees; attended conventions and conferences; and encouraged younger counterparts to get involved.
He also co-chairs the Merrimack Valley ANC.
Beyond the ARF circle, he has commanded the Sam Manoian Post, Lowell Armenian-American Veterans; led the charge at parades and marches; taught Sunday School at Sts. Vartanantz Church, where he has served as a Parish Council member; worked the kitchen; and been the go-to guy whenever an opportunity or a need presented itself.
"Few have done more for the ARF and its community than Aram," say members. "He embodies the true spirit of this organization in its many facets. Indeed, he serves as the consummate role model for others."
A recent bout with open heart surgery refuses to take its toll. A month of recovery and rehabilitation had him back in his familiar role, attending meetings and fulfilling goals.
Of immediate concern is a genocide memorial for Lowell, where he was raised. Jeknavorian and others have initiated a $50,000 monument project to be completed in time for the 2015 centennial.
Joining him on the project are his two brothers, Armen, who chairs the committee, and Ara, a younger brother who provides strong impetus.
The three Jeknavorians have 135 years of combined service to the ARF, following in the footsteps of their dad, Apraham, who set the early example. Two sisters, Armig and Rose, have also been involved in ARS work, along with their mother Flora.
"I'm deeply humbled by this recognition from my ungers," said Aram.
"They've been an extended family over the years. I've been taught at a very early age to become a devoted Armenian servant, both with my church and outside community. It's kept me vital over the decades."
The anniversary celebration attracted a number of members from outside the organization in an arena of conviviality. An update on the Lowell memorial brought loud applause from the audience.
A musical performance by the mother-son duo of Ani and Haig Hovsepian produced another highlight to the occasion. The two virtuosos combined their talents on the piano and violin in a repertoire of classical gems.
A moment of silence was observed for victims of the 1988 earthquake that rocked Armenia, resulting in the loss of many thousand lives.
Prayers were offered by Der Karekin Bedourian.