GLENDALE — Gerald Turpanjian, longtime benefactor and international philanthropist, will be presented with the Order of Mesrop Mashtots at the annual Armenia Fund Annual Gala Banquet on November 23, 2014 at the Glendale Hilton Hotel. Mr. Turpanjian will be presented with the honor for his substantial contribution to the progress and prosperity of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by the country’s president, Bako Sahakyan.
“Mr. Turpanjian’s devotion to his homeland and to his people is nothing but exemplary,” says Armenia Fund executive director, Sarkis Kotanjian. “His unwavering efforts to meaningfully contribute to the progress of the Armenian Nation, especially through education, are indicative of a man who believes that, if we work for it, the future is bright.”
The eldest child of two Genocide survivors, Turpanjian was born in Aleppo, Syria, but grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. He immigrated to the United States to pursue higher education and after arriving, he met and married Patricia Savoian, having four children.
Turpanjian went on to found Pacific Sales which, before he sold it to Best Buy in 2006, was the largest retailer of luxury kitchen and bath appliances in the United States. Currently, he is the chairman and CEO of New Spark Holdings, Inc. and the president of TF Educational Foundation.
Beyond his immense professional success, Turpanjian has always maintained a strong relationship with his identity, always remembering his roots. When Armenia regained its independence, Turpanjian wasted no time in helping the country get on its feet and integrate into a world economy it had been sheltered from for decades. His main goal was, and continues to be, to promote democracy, free enterprise, and entrepreneurship through the myriad programs he has founded.
Turpanjian’s philanthropy is focused heavily on education although it is broad in scope, geography, and beneficiaries. He is a Trustee of the American University of Armenia, where he established the Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis; the center serves as a hub for research on legal and political issues in the country. To help economically underprivileged and orphaned youth in Armenia, he established the Turpanjian Scholarship Fund, which has provided over 2,000 college scholarships.
Convinced that education should be available throughout the country, the Turpanjian Rural Development Program was established to promote continuing education in areas outside of Yerevan and around smaller urban areas. Operated through a network of four offices in Gyumri, Ijevan, Stepanakert, and Javakhk, the program funds entrepreneurs in these areas and provides them with guidance and training to improve their likelihood of success.
Not forgetting the little ones, Turpanjian has funded, in collaboration with the government of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia Fund, the construction of several schools in Artsakh, including the building of Stepanakert School #11 that can accommodate 500 students and a new school in the village of Sos, in the Martuni region. Another Armenian Fund project Turpanjian has funded is bringing drinking water to the 3,000 residents to the town of Hadrut by installing a brand new water distribution system. He has also funded the digitization of Armenian literature to make it more easily accessible today and to preserve it for future generations.
Closer to home, Turpanjian established the chair in Contemporary Armenian Studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California, his alma mater.
His philanthropy hasn’t been limited to education, either. He is the benefactor of the ancient monastic complex at Harichavank, which was renovated through his donations. The grounds of the monastery now house the Turpanjian Theological Seminary.
Turpanjian is the recipient of countless awards and honors, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Movses Khorenatsi medal of Armenia, the St. Gregory the Illuminator medal from the Armenian Church, and the humanitarian of the year award from City of Hope, the famous research and medical center located in Southern California.