Stephen P. Mugar, 1901-1982, founder of the Star Market chain of supermarkets in New England, philanthropist and most prominent member of the Mugar family of Greater Boston, was born March 5, 1901, in Kharpert, Turkey of Armenian parents and died October 16, 1982, in Boston, Massachusetts.
- 1 Early Life
- 2 Early Career
- 3 Later Career
- 4 Philanthropic giving by Stephen Mugar
- 5 Gifts in memory of Marian and Stephen Mugar
- 6 Marriage and Family
- 7 See also
- 8 Sources
- 9 References
Stephen Pabken Mugar, his father, Sarkis, and mother, Vosgitel, and his two sisters, Alice and Mary, whose family name was shortened from Mugardichian, came to America from Turkey in 1906 to join his father's brothers who owned a restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. Another sister, Helen, was born after their arrival in Massachusetts. The 1910 United States Census shows the family in the 19th Ward of Boston and lists Sarkis Mugar's occupation as "waiter in restaurant." In 1916, Sarkis Mugar paid $800.00 for the Star Market, a small grocery store, at 28 Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown and Stephen eventually went to work for his father in the store.
In 1922, Stephen's father was killed in an automobile accident, leaving Stephen to take over the Star Market to support his mother, himself and his sisters. His hard work, determination and concern for his customers enabled the store to prosper. In the early 1930's he hired his young first cousin, John M. Mugar to bag groceries and encouraged him to further his education at Tufts, from which John graduated magna cum laude in 1937. The second Star Market was opened in Newtonville in 1932 and the third one was opened in Wellesley in 1937. John Mugar joined Stephen in management and later became both President and Chairman of Star Market.
After the war ended and wartime restrictions and shortgages were over, Stephen Mugar and his Star Market were ready to expand throughout Greater Boston to meet the increased affluence and consumer demand. The second Star Market in Newtonville opened in 1948 and was Mugar's first supermarket. It was the proptype of the other modern supermarkets that Mugar opened during this period. Meats and produce were packaged in cellophane wrappers to make them more appealing to consumers. A conveyor belt carried bags of groceries to a central pickup station by the parking lot. Customers tired of no self service at stores such as A&P or self service but little else at First National Stores came from miles around to patronize the new Star Market.
Philanthropic giving by Stephen Mugar
After making his fortune in the Star Market business, Stephen P. Mugar became a generous contributor to educational institutions and Armenian causes locally and abroad.
Armenian Assembly of America
The Armenian Assembly of America is non-profit group aimed at increased Armenian-American participation in the American democratic process as well as assisting in humanitarian and development programs in Armenia. Stephen Mugar gave generously during his lifetime and his estate in 1984 gave one million dollars to help launch its endowment fund.
Mugar Hall at Tufts
Mugar Library at Haigazian University
Mugar Life Sciences Building at Northeastern
The Mugar Life Sciences Building at Northeastern University, which contains the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, Departments of Psychology, Biology, and Chemical Engineering, and laboratories and classrooms, was given in 1963 in memory of his parents.
Mugar Memorial Library
Gifts in memory of Marian and Stephen Mugar
Armenian Library & Museum of America
In 1992, the former Coolidge Bank building in Watertown, which was bought by the Armenian Library and Museum of America in 1988, was dedicated to the memory of Stephen Pabken Mugar and Marian Graves Mugar.
Mugar Omni Theater
Mugar Building at Cape Cod Hospital
Endowded Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies
Carolyn Muger and her husband, John O'Connor, shortly before his death November 30, 2002, made a gift to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts to establish the: Endowded Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies, which is named for "Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar."
Marriage and Family
In the 1930's, Stephen Mugar married Marian Graves, (born June 29, 1901, in Saugus, and they had two children: David G. Mugar, who became a business leader and philanthropist in his own right, and Carolyn Mugar, activist, who started a reforestation project in Armenia and is executive director of Farm Aid. Stephen and Marian Mugar lived first in Watertown and then in Belmont for many years before moving further out to Burlington. Stephen Mugar died October 16, 1982, and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery. Marian Mugar died November 29, 1984 in Belmont and was buried next to her husband in Mount Auburn.
- Alice (Mugar) Yacubian, born June 5, 1899, died in May, 1981.
- Mary (Mugar) Sarajian, born January 2, 1906, died in July, 1977. Her husband, Mesrop G. Sarajian, died February 10, 1991. They had no children.
- A Watertown Historian Looks at Steve Mugar's Legacy
- Boston Globe article on John M. Mugar's death
- Armenian Assembly of America