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Zaven ‘George’ Giragosian died peacefully at his Jaffrey home on September 9, 2021. He was born on April 24th 1930 in Roxbury, MA to Aharon K. and Nartouhi (Halajian) Giragosian. Predeceasing Zaven were his brother Charles Giragosian and his two brothers-in-law, Eugene Raphaelian and Thomas W. Kennedy. He is survived by his wife, Linda Kennedy, and three daughters: Lisa Giragosian, Polly Giragosian (Andy Brennan), Susan Giragosian (Dan Levison), beloved grandson James Aharon Levison, his sister, Queenie Raphaelian, his sister-in-law, Joan Kennedy, and many nieces and nephews.
Zaven cherished his Armenian heritage. Both parents were born in the Kharpert region of historic Armenia and came to this country as survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide. His first language was Armenian; he learned English at school and in turn, taught his sister, brother and parents. As a first-generation American, Zaven developed resilience and endurance, as did his family, living in Somerville and Cambridge during the depression and World War II.
Education was very important to the Giragosian family. Zaven graduated from Cambridge Latin High School in 1948. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from Northeastern University and postgraduate degrees in Education and Chemistry respectively at the State Teacher’s College in Boston and the University of New Hampshire.
Zaven served in the United States Army from 1953-1956 and was stationed in Germany. While in the service he traveled to France to meet his maternal grandfather, his only grandparent to survive the Armenian genocide. He traveled to Armenia twice. In 2006 he visited Yerevan and met his two cousins for the first time. Zaven returned to Armenia in 2008 with his sister and their respective families to spend time again with the first cousins.
Zaven’s first teaching job was at Abington Junior High School on the south shore of Boston. There he met his future wife and life-long partner, Linda Kennedy. Zaven would travel from his parents’ home in Cambridge to pick her up at her Boston apartment and together they drove to Abington. Zaven and Linda were married at Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston in 1961. They had a loving partnership for 60 years and declared each other their best friend. They raised three daughters in Arlington and Carlisle, MA. Zaven taught chemistry at Woburn Memorial High School for thirty years where he was beloved by his students.
Upon retirement in 1992, Zaven and Linda moved to Jaffrey NH, to the house his in-laws had purchased as their retirement haven. Zaven spent a wonderful 28 years living in the Monadnock region. Communities he treasured included the First Church in Jaffrey, the Tuesday OFC Men’s Lunch (continuing the tradition of his father-in-law Jim Kennedy), and the Wednesday Men’s Far Outers group. Zaven spent most summers at the family home on Isle Au Haut, ME. In his later years, he and Linda spent the winter months on Palm Island, FL. In both places they developed a wide community of devoted friends.
Zaven was a farmer at heart and an early advocate of home composting. He started his first vegetable garden in his backyard in Carlisle and later joined a community garden on the Concord River. He developed a beautiful vegetable garden at his home in Jaffrey and often gave away produce to friends and neighbors.
Zaven loved music of all kinds from opera to jazz. For their parents’ 50th anniversary, his children hired a Maine folk singer, Gordon Bok, to sing for the Isle Au Haut community. For Linda’s 80th birthday celebration Zaven filled the First Church in Jaffrey with the exuberant sounds of a local jazz band.
Zaven was known for his kindness and generosity. He gave time to help others, whether it was struggling students, driving for Meals on Wheels, or volunteering for his church. He was a selfless person who rarely talked about himself, but his concern for family and friends was apparent at an early age. Zaven was nine years old, and his family had no money to celebrate the Christmas holiday. Zaven read about Boston Globe Santa in the paper. He wrote to them and asked for a doll for his sister. Three days prior to Christmas, two packages arrived, one for his sister and one for him. This charitable organization was always near and dear to Zaven’s heart.
A celebration of Zaven’s life will be held in Spring 2022.
Memorial contributions in Zaven’s memory may be made to Boston Globe Santa (globesanta.org), The Armenian Tree Project (armeniatree.org), or a donation of your choice.
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