YEREVAN, September 17. / ARKA /. Prominent Armenian benefactor Gerard Cafesjian has died at the age of 88, the Cafesjian Center for the Arts in Yerevan said today.
Gerard Leon Cafesjian was a businessman and philanthropist who founded the Cafesjian Family Foundation (CFF), the Cafesjian Museum Foundation (CMF) and the Cafesjian Center for the Arts.
He was born April 26, 1925 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents had come to the United States preceding the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
After amphibious training, he served in the United States Navy in WWII.
He earned a degree in economics from Hunter College, and a doctorate of jurisprudence from St. Johns University Law School, both in five and a half years. He is a member of the New York Bar Association.
He began his career with West Publishing as a legal editor in New York City. He was the first employee in the history of the 100-year-old company to be transferred from any subsidiary company into the home office in St. Paul, Minnesota. At West Publishing he rose through the ranks to the position of executive vice president; overseeing sales, marketing, customer service, public relations, all Westlaw office training and development. At West, he also conceived of and started the West Legal Directory and a well-known program, “Art and the Law”, which earned him and West numerous awards.
Mr. Cafesjian retired from West Publishing when it was sold to Thompson Publishing in 1996.
After attending to his family needs, Mr. Cafesjian established the Cafesjian Family Foundation. Through that Foundation he devoted millions of dollars to Armenia on relief projects including renewable energy, headed a TV station, ran a newspaper, contributed to the clearing of land mines by specially trained dogs, founded a bank, insurance company, and supplied the resources for many other projects. If any of the projects were to prove successful, the profits were to remain in Armenia for further development.
He received accolades and recognition from both the United States and Armenia institutions, including the Ellis Island Award in 2000.
Mr. Cafesjian completely renovated the Cascade site in downtown Yerevan. The Cascade was a huge old crumbling Soviet structure of epic proportions. He opened the Cafesjian Center for the Arts at the Cascade in 2009. The Museum enjoys a world-class sculpture garden with works by Botero, Flanagan, Chadwick, Plensa and Lalanne, to name a few. -0-