hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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January 2, 2014

Remembering Sara Jaffarian

The last impression I have of Sara Jaffarian was tapping on the window of her home, hoping to gain her attention. She didn’t answer.

Odd, considering the whereabouts of a 98-year-old woman living independently in a family homestead where she was born and spent her lifetime.

I was accompanied by Ruth Thomasian, executive director of Project SAVE, an archival photographic preserve based in Watertown. We were there to document her family history and use it for both historical research and as an educational tool about the Armenian Diaspora.

The Jaffarians were among the first Armenian-American immigrants to settle in Haverhill, leaving their mark on the fields of business, education, philanthropy and humanitarian service.

Sara was the last of 10 siblings and matriarch over the remaining clan, though she never wed. She had a prominent career in library sciences.

We rang the doorbell to no avail, thinking she may have been taking a mid-afternoon nap. It was then we noticed footprints in the snow leading to her living room window. Obviously, others had the same idea and rapped on the same pane.

“Why don’t we just step into the impressions already made?” it was suggested. “A trail has already been made to her window in the snow.”

Little did we know Sara had already been transported to a nearby hospice center, before succumbing on Christmas Eve — her wishes unfulfilled.

More than anything, she had hoped that a treasure trove of family photographs located in boxes throughout her home would somehow be documented and preserved accordingly, rather than become forgotten remnants of the past.

“You don’t know how happy this makes me,” she said. “I’ve wanted to record my family history for many years, not knowing how much time I have left. It’s the last piece of unfinished business I have in my life.”

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