Jirair Hovnanian

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Jirair Hovnanian was a noted entrepreneur and benefactor.

Hovnanian was born in 1927 in Kirkuk, Iraq, where his father, Stepan K. Hovnanian, an Armenian refugee, was a builder.

He moved to the United States in 1948 and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1952.

Hovnanian and his three brothers formed Hovnanian Brothers Corp. in 1959 and built homes in New Jersey before starting separate companies about five years later.

Jirair Hovnanian founded J.S. Hovnanian & Sons, of Mount Laurel. His company is truly a family business. His grandson, Garo Hovnanian, is a member of the third generation involved with J.S. Hovnanian & Sons.

One of his brothers,Kevork Hovnanian, started a company that eventually became Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., a publicly traded company based in Red Bank.

The two companies have no business relationship.

Over the past four decades, J.S. Hovnanian & Sons built more than 6,000 homes, mainly in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.

In 2006, Hovnanian received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for contributions toAmerica by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Inc.

Hovnanian was also chairman of Trustees Council of Armenian Assembly of America.

Hovnanian died in 2007 at his home in Mount Laurel. He was 80.

"Hovnanian had been in and out of the hospital recently for small ailments and because he had been outside in last week's heat watching his company build a house for ABC's television show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," his grandson said after announcing the death of Hovnanian.

Then Armenian President, Robert Kocharyan sent condolences to the Hovnanians family on death of Jirayr Hovnanian. The president expressed appreciation of Hovnanian's activities in Armenia and outside.


Jirair married Elizabeth (Vosbikian). Elizabeth Hovnanian passed away peacefully on May 14 2010, at age 87.

Elizabeth was mother of Stephen and Nancy, Peter and Theresa. Grandmother of Stephan and Lisa, Haig, Garo and Tamar, Karinne and Krikor, Janeen and Tanya, and great grandmother of Ariana, Christina, Sophia and Ella. Sister of Samuel, Manuel, Joseph, and Peter Vosbikian and the late Sarah Hovsepian and Virginia DerHagopian.

Interment at Lakeview Memorial Park, Cinnaminson, N.J.


  • BUILDER J.S. HOVNANIAN DIES AT 80, By Jeffrey Gold,/ARKA/, August 25, 2007