Fund for Armenian Relief is devastated by the loss of one of its founders and most dedicated supporters Dr. Edgar Housepian. An accomplished neurosurgeon, professor, dedicated father and husband, and a true humanitarian, Dr. Housepian sadly passed away at the age of 86.
Dr. Housepian was one of FAR’s founders. Following the devastating earthquake, which struck northern Armenia in December 1988, he, along with Archbishop Torkom Manoogian and the late Kevork Hovnanian, immediately gathered resources and support to assist those impacted by the disaster. Mobilizing an all-out relief effort to aid the Armenian people, they traveled to the Soviet Union to help. After witnessing the disaster with their own eyes, the three men knew they had to do more once the news crews turned to the next global crisis and Armenia’s tragedy would cease to command the world’s attention. They subsequently formed the board of what would eventually become FAR to help meet both the short-term relief and the long-term development needs of Armenia.
“Every now and then you meet someone who is truly a great person with tremendous accomplishments wrapped up in a veil of humility and self deprecating humor. Dr. Ed was that man. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to help an individual, a community or a country. His soft spoken voice on the FAR board was a loud one that commanded attention and respect from the rest of us. With his passing, i feel that we have all lost a great leader and humanitarian. May we all aspire to be half the man he was”, said Randy Sapah-Gulian, Chairman of FAR
Born and raised in New York, Dr. Housepian was a neurosurgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital who continued to pursue medical research more than a decade after her retired. His first foray into medicine occurred when he was 14 years old when he volunteered as an orderly in the operating room at New York Hospital. He flew planes as a pilot in the Navy during World War II before attending medical school. After his retirement he continued to teach and forge partnerships with medical schools around the world. He worked on improving the state of medicine and healthcare in Armenia through FAR all the while earning numerous awards and accolades including the Humanitarian Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Dr. Edgar Housepian Professorship in Neurological Surgery established by the Columbia University Board of Trustees, and the Presidential Citation from the Republic of Armenia and Honorary Doctor of Science by Armenia’s Academy of Sciences.
In the 26 years since FAR’s inception, Dr. Housepian exemplified his humanity through the numerous development initiatives he spearheaded and supported. He helped to start FAR’s Continuing Medical Education (CME) program, which gives physicians and medical personnel from Armenia’s rural regions the opportunity to learn new methods, skills and techniques by working with centers in Yerevan and connecting to a strong network.
He was also a great supporter of the refurbishment of Armenia’s National Medical Library, then known as the Republican Scientific Medical Library, by not only expanding its materials and resources, but also transforming it into a modern center fit for teaching English as a Second Language and computer courses for medical professionals.
His dedication and vision for FAR contributed to changing the landscape of Armenia’s healthcare system for the better through better access to improved medical education, and closer working relationships and coordination between medical schools, the health ministry and the parliamentary health commission.
He was a true partner who stood by FAR and helped it to expand its programs in order to meet Armenia’s evolving needs. He was integral in building FAR up from a fledgling group to the organization it is today – one with programs as diverse as the needs of the country it serves.
Dr. Housepian was a man who had said that he always wanted to accomplish something outstanding during his life. Always deeply humble he never truly recognized the impact he had on the lives of so many, and on the development of a nation, simply by being the dedicated, industrious person he was. As some who encapsulated all the qualities of what it means to be a true human being, Dr. Housepian is an example to us all. He will always serve as an inspiration to this organization, its vision and mission, just as he will continue to inspire us as people who are better off having known him.