Rouben Terzian

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Rouben Terzian in Toy Hall of Fame

Tekeyan Cultural Association Recognizes a Successful Designer and Innovator
By Florence Avakian

NEW YORK, NY - It was an emotional, heartfelt and appropriately loving evening on Valentine's Day, February 14, as the Tekeyan Cultural Association Board of Directors honored fellow member Rouben Terzian at a beautiful cocktail reception.

The event, held at New York's Marriott Marquis Hotel, was a double celebration. Terzian, with his partners Jeffrey Breslow and Howard Morrison, had been inducted the evening before into the prestigious Toy Industry Hall of Fame at a glittering dinner-dance attended by more than 900 people. For 31 years, Terzian has been designing and creating some of the industry's most innovative and successful games and toys.

In his presentation of the Terzian group, "Toys 'R Us" President Russell B. Wesnkstern called them "the most creative team in the toy industry." And Gary Baughman, Chairman of the Toy Manufacturers of America, called their 31-year collaboration "a unique ability to marry fresh, new creative ideas with an uncanny instinct for sensing the needs and wants of children the world over. With a spirit not unlike the children they serve, there seems to be no end in sight for this team's contribution to children's play."

A Deserved Tribute

Paying tribute to Terzian at the Tekeyan Cultural Association reception on February 14 were several guests, including Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese; Armenia's Ambassador to the United Nations Movses Abelian; and Hasmig Haroutunian, First Secretary for Political Affairs in Armenia's Embassy in Washington.

Master of Ceremonies of the Tekeyan reception, Edmond Azadian, one of the attendes at the Toy Industry's Hall of Fame event, recalled his days at the AGBU Hovagimian Manoogian Secondary School for Boys in Beirut with Rouben Terzian. "What a long way he has come. Last evening's honor for Rouben Terzian brought tears to my eyes. And every contribution he has made has been shared and encouraged by his wife, Nina," said Azadian, paying tribute to the Terzian family in attendance - which also included his daughter, son-in-law and baby granddaughter.

Congratulating the Tekeyan Association for this occasion, Archbishop Barsamian praised Terzian, "who came to this country as a youth, and took advantage of the educational and other opportunities. He is a wise, courageous, intelligent Armenian who loves his homeland and has helped it tremendously."

Ambassador Abelian recalled that Terzian had been among the first to rush to Armenia after the earthquake to help. Subsequently, he established a joint venture, "ArmenToy," which "put smiles on the faces of the children in Armenia. We hope to see Rouben Terzian back in Armenia," he said. Haroutunian, who was representing Armenia's Ambassador to the United States Rouben Shugarian, read a congratulatory message from the Ambassador and expressed the hope that Terzian will continue his contribution to Armenia. Dr. Simon Simonian, whose son is married to Terzian's daughter, deviated from the usual remarks and explained eloquently the "secret behind successful people." He attributed their success to certain principles - "honesty, integrity, love of truth, justice and the pursuit of equality, life, liberty and happiness - qualities that lead to one becoming a true leader, such as Rouben Terzian." Just as importantly, "these leaders have a team of followers, so they will also succeed and carry on the torch. We should all learn from Rouben Terzian's example," he said. Berge Setrakian, vice president and secretary of the Armenian General Benevolent Union Central Board of Directors, declared that the honoree has entered the Hall of Fame of the diaspora. "I don't care how famous Armenians are. What is important is how committed they are to Armenianism," he said, citing the legendary industrialist and benefactor Alex Manoogian as one of these unique people. "Rouben Terzian is also one of them, a hero in the toy industry, and in the Armenian community."

Vartkess Balian presented the honoree with a beautifully framed plaque containing hand-drawn Armenian lettering and traditional design and decoration, executed by artist Siroon Yeretzian.

"I Belong To You"

"I'm blessed," said Rouben Terzian, acknowledging the tributes and standing ovation accorded him. "Last night, my two partners and I were honored. But in my heart, I know I belong to you, and you belong to me," he said in a choked voice, his eyes becoming moist. Paying tribute to his wife, Nina Terzian, he said, "I haven't done this alone. In my Armenian life, Nina always has been with me."

He expressed his appreciation to the Armenians who "made me. When I was poor, the Gulbenkian Foundation helped me. Dr. Goshgarian paid my tuition," he said. Looking at the Tekeyan Association plaque, he commented, "This is more beautiful than the Hall of Fame plaque. It is more emotional for me. I will always treasure it."

Mrs. Nina Terzian is a successful businesswoman in her own right, who owns numerous luxury retail stores such as Louis Vuitton, Christofle, Mart Blanc and Rue Royale. A non-Armenian, she said graciously, "Yes shad urakh yem, shad shnorhagal yem (I'm very happy, I'm very thankful"), to thunderous applause.

The artistic portion of the program was provided by the very popular song stylist and guitarist Berj Turabian, who was accompanied on the piano by Dikran Nanian, a student from Armenia, studying for his MA at the Juilliard Music School. They offered several romantic Armenian ballads which the Tekeyan Association plans to offer to the public on CD. The elegant reception was organized by Vartkess Balian, chairman of the TCA Board of Directors, and his wife Rita and by TCA Executive Secretary Kevork Marashlian. Guests enjoyed the delicious Armenian foods, which had been specially prepared and brought in for the occasion. Among the many out-of-town guests present were Vartan Ouzounian and Garo Haroutunian from London; Mr. and Mrs. Kevork Toroian from Connecticut; Dr. Noubar Berberian, Dr. Armen Demirjian and Kevork Marashlian from Boston; Mr. and Mrs. Antoine Bazabashian, Mr. and Mrs. Papken Megerian, Kudsie Mikaelian and Mr. and Mrs. Shant Kehyayan from Philadelphia; Dr. and Mrs. Kevork Keshishian and Dr. and Mrs. Simon Simonian from Washington; Mr. and Mrs. Edmond Azadian and Mr. and Mrs. Osip Sarafian from Detroit; and Mr. and Mrs. Sirop Bedrossian and Arsen Demirjian from Chicago.

Talented Creator and Entrepreneur

Born in Lebanon in 1939, Rouben Terzian attended the AGBU Hovagimian Manoogian School for Boys, and studied violin with Onnig Surmelian at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts. He came to the United States in 1958 to pursue violin studies with the fames Ivan Galamian, but was quickly urged to consider other goals. Moving to Chicago, he studied industrial design at the Art Institute of Chicago and did advanced work at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Following his graduation, Terzian began his professional career at Bell and Howell, designing cameras and photographic equipment. Endowed with a talent for creating unique products with lively designs, he gravitated to the toy industry. Unsuccessful in five attempts to secure an interview with the legendary Marvin Glass, he finally hit the jackpot when Glass dined at a restaurant designed by Terzian. Deeply impressed by the design, Glass offered the young Terzian a job.

Since 1967, Rouben Terzian has collaborated with Jeffrey Breslow and Howard Morrison in the Glass company, creating and designing some of the industry's most successful products. Ten years ago, Breslow, Morrison, Terzian and Associates was formed. Their best-selling products include, "The Animal," "Ants in the Pants," "Guesstures," "Brain Warp," "California Roller Baby," "Real Talking Bubba," "Masterpiece," "My Size Barbie," "Jennie Gymnast," "Casey Cartwheel" and "Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash," among others. Despite his crushing work schedule, Terzian has always had time for the Armenian community. He has served on the Boards of Directors of the AGBU, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party and the Tekeyan Cultural Association.

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