Hirair Hovnanian, who passed away at age 91 on April 9, 2021, stands out as a groundbreaking visionary whose name is synonymous with business and building. Not only did he revolutionize the landscape of real estate and housing industry in his adopted country of the United States, but also generously applied his entrepreneurial and organizational prowess to his lifelong passion for Armenian causes.
Building on his successes in the world of business and industry in America, Hovnanian set his sights on building a strong Armenian presence in the shaping of U.S. policy as a founding member of the Armenian Assembly of America. He later took his organizational skills global as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Hayastan All Armenian Fund with branches across the diaspora, raising the multi-millions of dollars needed to rebuild a newly independent Armenia.
He led by example by supporting crucial nation-building projects from highway construction and housing material factories that generated numerous jobs in Armenia and modernized the infrastructure of the country even during the dark years of the blockade. From the Armenian Earthquake to his passing, his unwavering commitment to Armenia has been passed down to his progeny. Today, a new generation of Hovnanian philanthropists continue to serve Armenians across the world through the self-sustaining Hovnanian Foundation.
Recalling his close collaborations with Hovnanian over the past four decades, AGBU President Berge Setrakian described him as a fond friend and key figure in Armenian affairs, who exhibited his innate optimism and can do-spirit in concrete, tangible ways. “Everything about Hirair was larger than life—he thought big and bold, took calculated risks, and gave from the heart. But in always being pragmatic and performance-driven, he earned the respect of leaders and nations by what he produced and how he transformed lives. Hirair Hovnanian's imprint on the Armenian world is all around us.”