News > Pan-Armenian News > ARMENPAC mourns the passing of founding Board Member Jirair Hovnanian
The Armenian-American Political Action Committee* (ARMENPAC) mourns the passing away of Hovnanian
Jirair S. Hovnanian passed peacefully on Tuesday, August 14, 2007, at his home in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, after 80 years of inspiring others to live their dreams. Whether you knew him for a day or for a lifetime, Jirair made a deep and lasting impression on everyone he met. His passion for life was contagious and he lifted the spirits and hopes of all he came in contact with. He lived for his wife Elizabeth, his sons Stephen and Peter and their families, and hundreds more in his extended family. He lived for his roses and his garden. He lived for his Armenian people, supporting their efforts both in America and abroad. He lived for his entrepreneurial projects, using his gift for navigating the global perspective to achieve things that many thought impossible. But most of all, he lived the American dream, and inspired so many others to do the same.
Jirair came to the United States in 1948, one of six children of Armenian refugees who fled to Iraq in 1915. His father, Stepan K. Hovnanian, owned a construction company in Baghdad. Jirair emerged as a leader within the housing industry and the community since the start of his career in 1959. He founded J.S. Hovnanian & Sons in 1964, and together with his sons Stephen and Peter, built over 6,000 homes, shopping centers and office and industrial parks. The company has won the J.D. Power & Associates award for "Highest in Customer Satisfaction" three times.
Jirair is a former president of the Builders League of South Jersey and a life director of the National Association of Home Builders. He served as president of the New Jersey Builders Association from 1974-1975, during which the New Jersey Uniform Building Code and the Municipal Land Use laws were adopted.
Jirair received the prestigious "Builder of the Year Award" from New Jersey Builders Association and was recently inducted into the association's "Hall of Fame". He was a Senior Life Member of the National Association of Home Builders and a past chairman of its Political Action Committee.
In addition to building communities, Jirair was part of the inaugural class of the Young Presidents Organization in 1965, which served to collect and cultivate the next generation of leaders. Jirair was a Founder and a Board Member of ARMENPAC, The Armenian-American Political Action Committee and, of the Armenian Sisters Academy, a Montessori private school. He was also an Arch Deacon of St. Gregory's Armenian Church in Philadelphia, and a Member of the Armenian Assembly of America.
An advocate for the conservation of energy and natural resources, Jirair led a major effort to establish a Synchrotron Light Source Accelerator Research Center – known as "CANDLE" (Center for the Advancement of Natural Discoveries using Light Emission) in Armenia. He was also involved in the production and marketing of "Nature's Wonder", a patented organic product that stimulates microorganisms in soil, which is used to clean up wastewater facilities.
Over the years, Jirair helped countless individuals and companies, especially those with Armenian roots, get their start in America. In 2006, Jirair was recognized with the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his noteworthy contribution to America and for his outstanding citizenship by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, Inc.
ARMENPAC extends its heartfelt sympathies to the Hovnanian family during this difficult time. Jirair S. Hovnanian was a dedicated advocate, an inspiration leader and a great friend, whose memory ARMENPAC will honor through its ongoing advocacy efforts in support of issues of importance to the Armenian-American Community.
Source: Website of ARMENPAC www.armenpac.org (with adjustments), 17 August 2007
Photo: Jirair S. Hovnanian (June 9, 1927 - August 14, 2007)
Note: *ARMENPAC, The Armenian-American Political Action Committee, is an independent, bipartisan political action committee with a nationwide [USA] membership, which is leading the current advocacy renaissance within the Armenian-American community. ARMENPAC raises awareness of, and advocates for, policies that help create peace, security and stability in the Caucasus region in part by fostering the active participation of the Armenian-American community in the United States political system.