George and Alice (née Kalenian) Hoogasian, born in 1922 and 1924 respectively, belong to that distinguished demographic known as America's greatest generation, and Alice’s family made its mark through an Armenian food staple.
Written for AGBU Impact Magazine 2022 by Talia Jebejian Bouldoukian.
The first known Armenian arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1867, and by the early twentieth century, the town was a beacon for Armenians landing on the eastern shores of the U.S.—the first “Little Armenia” in the nation.
The Hoogasian and Kalenian families were part of that immigration wave. George and Alice (née Kalenian) Hoogasian, born in 1922 and 1924 respectively, belong to that distinguished demographic known as America's greatest generation, and Alice’s family made its mark through an Armenian food staple. In 1892, her uncle, Oscar Kalenian, founded the Armeno Cereal Company in Worcester, a wheat processing firm known as the first commercial bulghur (cracked wheat) manufacturing plant in the U.S. Alice’s father, Armen, took over the helm after his passing.
George and Alice, proud natural born Armenian-Americans, never forgot their roots. Throughout their lives, they sought to perpetuate their heritage as supporters of various local and global Armenian organizations.
A brave World War II veteran, George witnessed firsthand the horrors of battle as a U.S. Army combat medic and was decorated with the American, Asiatic-Pacific, and European-African-Middle-Eastern Campaign Medals. He graduated from Worcester Junior College prior to being stationed, and later worked as Chief of Communications and Records at the West Roxbury Veterans Administration Hospital until his retirement in 1983.
Alice was born in Framingham and graduated from the Fairfield Secretarial School. She worked at the same hospital as George, which is where they met, and served for many years as the secretary to the hospital director.
Married in 1957, George and Alice cherished a happy union for 59 years in Westborough, a suburb of Worcester. Though they did not have children of their own, they enjoyed the love and respect of numerous nieces and nephews. Lillian and Barbara Johnson—the daughters of Alice’s sister—recalled, “We have such fond memories with them. Many enjoyable dinners and other happy occasions were shared together at our home.”
Each had a favorite hobby—Alice’s passion was cooking, and George loved gardening. But their shared hobby was traveling—they visited France several times, in addition to many national and international destinations.
“They were a very gentle and kind couple, totally devoted to one another and would do their best to accept life’s challenges in a positive spirit and with good humor,” says James Tashjian, their attorney.
George passed away in 2016 at the age of 93. Upon Alice’s passing in 2018, also at 93, the George & Alice Hoogasian Memorial Endowment was established at AGBU to fortify both the organization and its mission to preserve and promote Armenian culture worldwide.
This article was featured in the 2022 release of AGBU Impact Magazine. For more information on the AGBU donations, click here.