Celebrating the life of Dr Raffy Hovanessian

Archbishop Barsamian concluded his moving sermon with “prayers and love to dear Shoghag, and to the children, grandchildren, brother and countless friends and companions of the Hovanessian family”, and asked Dr Raffy “to pray for us, Armenia and Artsakh. May my dear and close friend rest in heavenly lights. Many in the church were seen wiping away tears.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian speaks, with a photo of himself with Dr Raffy Hovanessian on the right

Messages from Church Leaders, Family

The message of the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, read by the Diocesan Vicar, the Most Reverend Simeon Odabashian, paid tribute to Dr. Hovanessian as “a renowned physician who dedicated his medical expertise and humanitarian compassion for the benefit of countless fellow Armenians – especially in his homeland of Armenia where his contributions have greatly advanced the fields of medicine and medical education. The Catholicos concluded with “prayers and consolation for his beloved wife Shoghag, his children , his grandchildren and countless relatives and friends”.

The letter of the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I, read by Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, remembers Dr. Raffy Hovanessian as a gentle and very devoted man “for whom the Armenian Church, nation and fatherland remained of supreme worth. He respected his circle and was respected by everyone without restrictions. This commemorative event is a strong testament that he will continue to be the unforgettable and beloved Raffy to his family, friends and the multitudes who have had the good fortune to know him.

From left to right, Aileen Agopian, Ani Hovanessian and Dr. Armen Hovanessian, children of Dr. Hovanessian

Several family members and friends then presented fond memories of Dr. Raffy in loving tributes. Cousin Alex Yemenidjian, former CEO of MGM Studios, who warmly welcomed the huge crowd, played the role of master of ceremonies with dignity. He called Dr. Raffy “a role model and an excellent teacher” for him and for so many people.

Dr. Raffy Hovanessian’s brother, Dr. Reuben Siraganian, a scientist emeritus at the National Institute of Health, remembers playing with 8-year-old Raffy in Biskanta, a small village in Lebanon. He said: “Growing up, Raffy was very athletic and participated in many sports, excelling in football and basketball, at the American University of Beirut (AUB).”

Deeply involved in church activities, “Raffy did not distinguish between the two sides of the Armenian Apostolic Church, or evangelical churches. The church not only met his spiritual needs, but also provided him with the person he would cherish for the rest of his life, his beloved wife Shoghag. They will spend 55 years together. She gave him strength and friendship, and supported him especially in the last, hardest days of his illness. What is clear and enduring is Raffy’s love for family. His spirit lives in his children and grandchildren.

From left to right, Aileen Agopian, Ani Hovanessian and Dr. Armen Hovanessian, children of Dr. Hovanessian

Close family friend Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director and CEO of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), recounted how his father and Dr. Raffy’s “were two young orphaned, handsome, bald Arapgertsies who grew up to becoming craftsmen and heads of large families” and whose members visited each other regularly. “Raffy was an exceptionally bright student who skipped three grades and graduated from Aleppo College at 16.”

In Beirut, Dr. Raffy together with Bishop Karekin Sarkissian of the Great House of Cilicia, who later became Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin I of All Armenians, established the Association of University Students of the Armenian Church (HEHOM) in 1963, fighting for the rights of Armenian students. and students of all faiths to become members.

“To me he has been a brother, a friend, a counselor, a counselor and a man of God,” Khanjian said.

Another close family friend, professor of medical education at the University of Illinois at the Chicago College of Medicine, Dr. Ara Tekian, spoke of his special care for his family and patients, as well as for the many multitudes for whom he served with the greatest patience. , and respect.

Cousin, Dr. John Deirmenjian, of UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine, spoke about Dr. Raffy’s role in Indiana in establishing and leading the Asian American Medical Society and helping Armenian physicians and non-Armenians to find job opportunities. In Indiana and Chicago, Dr. Raffy helped establish the AGBU Center.

“Philanthropy was in Raffy’s blood,” he said. “He was a team player, always consulting Shoghag and working on many charity events together. After the Armenian earthquake, they worked tirelessly to raise funds and mobilized the entire Chicago community. Raffy also organized fundraising events for American politicians from both parties who supported Armenian causes.

Dr. Deirmenjian recounted that as private physician to Catholicos Karekin I, Dr. Raffy had a close and trusted friendship. And in his private life, he loved his family deeply, holding annual celebrations with his grandchildren called the “Medzbaba Camp.”

The children and grandchildren of Dr. Raffi and Shoghag – Chief of Radiology at Desert Springs Hospital, Dr. Armen Hovanessian, Partner at Wilkie, Farr and Gallagher, LLP Ani Hovanessian, Esq., and Agopian Inc./Art Advisor Aileen Agopian presented memories.

“He gave and helped everyone selflessly, and always with his typical humility,” said Armen Hovanessian. “Obsessively punctual, he was a man of his word and taught us the value of being trustworthy.”

Master of Ceremonies Alex Yemenidjian

In his words

A powerful video of the life of Dr Raffy, with his heartfelt words listing the highlights of his life in his own words – his birth in Jerusalem, his life with his hardworking and religious parents in Aleppo, his upbringing at AUB and in other universities where he excelled, his life in the church and his boundless love for his family, his patients and all who sought his help and guidance.

Dr. Raffy’s face particularly lit up when he paid tribute to his wife. “I had been to church during Vartanantz and a girl came and stood in front of me. I knew it was the girl. Of course, she was beautiful, tall and elegant. For the first and only time in my life, I’ve waited until after church to take a good look at her and see if anyone knew her.Her name is the one that has always been romantic to me – Shoghag.

As the video shows, since Armenia’s independence, Dr. Raffy A. Hovanessian “has been one of the strongest advocates for Continuing Medical Education (CME) of healthcare professionals in Armenia. Recently, under the banner of AAHPO, he launched a new project – the CME for doctors and nurses in Artsakh, and he appointed the Fund for Armenian Aid (FAR) to implement it.

The Dr. Raffy Hovanessian Education Fund was established at FAR by the Hovanessian family.

After the inspiring church service, the Kavookjian Diocesan Hall came alive as all in attendance continued their memories of Dr. Raffy over a lavish dinner.

The evening’s tribute was eloquently written by his youngest granddaughter of 15, Alessandra Victoria Agopian: “My Medzbaba is a legacy in him bright and shining like the stars shaped by God. The gift of his love and care for those who were both blood and not, lives forever. This is my Medzbaba.

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