He is survived by Mary, his wife of more than 60 years, and sons Mihran and Raffi and their families, and nieces and nephews including fellow NAASR Board Member Bruce W. Roat, who recalled his uncle as “a strong, positive leader in my extended family and a great role model of the greatest generation.”
Visiting Hours will be held Monday, July 19, from 5-8pm at Callahan, Fay & Caswell Funeral Home, 61 Myrtle Street, Worcester. A funeral service will be held at 11am on Tuesday, July 20, at Armenian Church of Our Saviour, 87 Salisbury Street, Worcester. Burial will follow at Hope Cemetery.
As a Board Member who was involved with NAASR from its very outset, Aroian brought a wealth of experience and knowledge but always wanted the organization to be looking ahead, rather than backwards. Current NAASR Chairman Yervant Chekijian remarked that “Van, as one of the longest serving members of the Board, believed in active participation in NAASR’s administration, planning, and vision for the future,” and indeed until recent physical setbacks slowed him down Van remained a highly involved member of the Board and a fixture at NAASR programs, logging many miles of driving between Worcester and Belmont.
Photo: Van and Mary Aroian with George Krikorian (left) and Nancy Kolligian (right) and locals in Kharpert in 2006
NAASR Director of Academic Affairs Marc Mamigonian, who worked closely with Aroian for more than 20 years, called him a “stalwart” and “a man of ideas and of integrity, decency, and commitment to what NAASR represents.”
Van M. Aroian was born in Boston on June 5, 1927, to Mihran and Satenig (Tashjian) Aroian, respectively of Kharpert and Hussenig, Historic Armenia. They married in Boston and raised Van and his sisters Alice and Myra. He earned a BA at Boston University and MA in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. He was a fellow in Urban Geography at Clark University and an Urban Planner and Deputy Director of the Worcester Redevelopment Authority. He later joined his brother in-law, Kevork, and wife Mary Balekdjian Aroian in importing and retailing Oriental carpets.
Characteristically, while he initially was skeptical of NAASR’s plans to build a new headquarters, Van came to embrace the idea and was a joyful presence at the grand opening on November 1, 2019. NAASR Executive Director Sarah Ignatius remembered “how meaningful it was for Van along with his fellow NAASR elder statesman, the late Jack Medzorian, to be there, braving the cold to help cut the ribbon and inaugurate a new era for the organization he served so well and for so long.”