In Memory of Detroit’s Harry (Herky) Yangouyian
DETROIT, Mich.—When a community activist passes, friends mourn his loss.
But Harry Yangouyian leaves as a shining activist, an honor he never sought. He just lived a full life and will be remembered for faithfully serving the St. Sarkis Church community and the ranks of the AYF and ARF.
Harry’s love of his Armenian roots was noted by the huge wave of friends who came not just to mourn their 83-year-old comrade but to honor his allegiance at serving justice and humanity at Don Gark prayers and March 3 services at St. Sarkis.
In the community, Harry was best known with a nickname moniker traced back to his youthful years as a star football player and golden glove tournament boxer at Cass Tech High School. His friends called him “Herky,” a shortened version to depict his herculean nameplate in sports.
While in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Herky still managed to win a boxing title, and as a rifleman earned combat ribbons and Battle Star medal.
Herky’s devout Armenian credo can be traced to his fluent use of the language; he learned Armenian as one of the first students of the ARS school program in Detroit, which he later expanded to the altar as an acolyte at St. Sarkis. Herky’s five children were also involved in the ARS school program, with four sons following their father’s role as acolytes.
On family spirit and love, Herky’s late wife Jeannette always had their growing adult family attend Sunday dinner at the parental home. It was her way of bringing their children and grandchildren to the same table to break bread.
Herky and Jeannette bonded hearts in 1961 and until her passing in 2007 cherished life with family and friends.
While surviving members of the then-Detroit “Mourad-Zavarian” Chapter still remember their basketball team winning the AYF National Championship against the Worcester “Aram” Chapter in a May 4, 1952 tournament in New York, Herky would jest how his “last second bank shot” won the game. “Mourad-Zavarian” won by eight points, 64-56.
After serving active duty in Korea, Herky returned to his family and church. Then marriage to the sweetheart of his life.
Besides time as a church board trustee, Herky served well over 35 years on St. Sarkis’s annual fundraising golf and tennis classic.
Though he experienced troubling health issues in recent years, it never stopped him from attending community events and a monthly breakfast club gathering of Delray Armenian pals from southwest Detroit.
Before retiring, Herky was employed at General Motors for 46 years, always urging fellow Armenians to buy Detroit-built cars.
Though the list of Herky’s friends is endless, ANCA activist Harry Derderian placed his parted friend at the top of the mountain: “Herky was special to our community.” Mike Kajoian, a devout member of St. Sarkis, said, “We’ll miss Herky. He loved our church and was a proud Dashnak.”
In 1969, I left on a mission to Turkish-occupied Western Armenia. Herky asked—if I were to pass through the mountain range of Shabin Kara-Hissar—if I could offer a prayer at the Eagle’s Nest in honor of his father’s birthplace and the men and women who perished defending the mountain village.
It was a pledge I kept.
Herky’s surviving children are sons Drs. David and Michael Yangouyian, Paul, Chris and daughter Licia Yangouyian and four grandchildren. He entered eternal rest on Feb. 27.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West