He was a humble man and did not want any publicity.
A love for education, history and philanthropy was in Krikor Ermonian’s DNA. A man of great intellectual curiosity, he never stopped learning and was a donor to many organizations throughout his life. Krikor was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1921 to Simon and Satenig (née Yeghiayan). His father found refuge in the United States after losing his family during the Armenian Genocide and deserting the Ottoman army into which he had been conscripted. Settling in Massachusetts, Sarkis worked as a barber and provided for his family of four.
Krikor’s cousin Jacob Pilibosian has cherished memories of spending Sunday afternoons together as a family. “I remember my father saying that Krikor was a very naughty child, but he changed in high school and became interested in books,” says Pilibosian. Krikor, a World War II veteran, studied at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and majored in engineering. Although after graduation he joined the Army Corps of Engineering as a civil engineer, history was his true passion. Since the late 1980s, he completed over 100 courses at the Harvard University Division of Continuing Education, remaining a keen reader and spending hours in libraries.
He never married and along with his brother Mitchel, who predeceased him, lived a private life in his parents’ home in Arlington, Massachusetts. Settling into a routine, Krikor adhered to minimalism in his day-to-day life—he did not accumulate belongings or have much furniture in his house. Krikor enjoyed frequent bus rides and long walks, often walking from his native Arlington to Harvard Square. He found inspiration in his nonmaterial values and true happiness in helping others. He was a long-time benefactor of the Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, the St. James Armenian Church in Watertown and the Church of Our Savior in Worcester. He cherished the time he spent at his alma mater the most and established the Simon and Satenig Ermonian Scholarship Fund in memory of his parents in UMass Amherst, supporting students majoring in history and engineering. Despite his generosity and countless donations, Krikor did not seek the spotlight and when UMass Amherst offered him an honorary doctorate, he declined. “He was a humble man and did not want any publicity,” says Pilibosian. Months after Krikor’s death, his trustees continued to receive letter after letter from the organizations he supported. “My wife and I made over 250 phone calls to different charities to tell them that he was gone and that there was no need to send more mail,” says Pilibosian.
Krikor was an AGBU member and contributed to its programs over the years. It came as no surprise that he included AGBU in his trust. After Krikor passed away in May 2017, the donation was directed to AGBU programs that honor his generosity and create a lasting memory.