hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


April 25, 2013

The last of a vanishing breed


And bitterly, thanks to the American government which refuses to recognize this first genocide of the 20th century. As we approach the centennial in 2015, efforts to get a film produced in Hollywood have fallen askew.

Attempts to get a stamp minted by the U.S. Postal Department have been futile. As long as Turkey remains an ally, justice will not prevail and precious Armenian land will not be restored.

And people like Nellie Nazarian will take the disappointment to their graves.

Nellie escaped the massacre in her native village of Chimisgazag by taking refuge in the mountains with her family before coming to America in the early 1920s. At a time when decent jobs were at a premium, she became an entrepreneur.

Throughout her working life, she operated a jewelry store (Nazarian Jewelers) in downtown Lawrence with her husband, Stephen, also a survivor.

Together, they built a profitable venture through diligent work and sacrifice. Stephen died in 1965, leaving Nellie widowed for the past 48 years. She’s hardly alone, with four children, 16 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren by her side.

More often than not, such testaments are given posthumously when deceased members aren’t around to enjoy them. In this case, she is hoping to make an appearance at the Merrimack Valley observance in North Andover High on April 29 and be showered with attention.

She will take her seat alone in the reserved section, looking to her left and right to see her peers gone. A bouquet will be presented, most likely by her 12-year-old grandson, Noah, who knows his place at these events.

If anything has impressed Nellie about these observances, it’s seeing the youth being honored for their essays and newer generations stepping forward to dance and sing and perpetuate the arts — a lifeline that has embodied Armenian culture over the centuries.

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