Today is Armenian national hero Alex Manoogian's memorial day

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Today is Armenian philanthropist, national hero Alex Manoogian's memorial day. Alex Manoogian passed away this day, Wednesday evening in 1996.

He was 95. Born in 1901, Manoogian emigrated to the United States at the age of 19 and moved to Detroit in 1924. He married the late Marie Tatian in 1931. She was his constant companion until her passing in 1992.

Manoogian was born in Smyrna (Izmir) and under the supervision of his parents, Tacvor (a grain merchant) and Tacoohie Manoogian, Alex received his primary and secondary education in local Armenian schools. In 1920, while Armenians were being persecuted in Turkey, and due to economic instability, Manoogian decided to leave his business to come to the US with two suitcases and $50. His parents later joined him in America, accompanied by his brothers Charles and George, and sisters Margaret and Aghavni.

He arrived in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he found a factory job, while teaching Armenian language in adult evening courses. After living in several cities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, he made Detroit his home in 1924. He worked in an auto parts manufacturing plant. In late 1928, Manoogian and two partners took the first initials of their last names and $5,000 and set up Masco Screw Products in a loft near Greektown. He grew this into the multi-national Masco Corporation with annual sales of over $3 billion.

Manoogian's greatest business achievement may have been his redesign of the Delta faucet. This single handle faucet resulted in enormous sales.

Although the depression years were hard, by 1936, Manoogian's company was large enough to be listed on the stock exchange-the first company owned by an Armenian to be listed on the stock market.

After their marriage in 1931, Manoogian and his wife had two children Louise Manoogian Simone and Richard Manoogian. Manoogian now has six grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Manoogian joined the Armenian General Benevolent Union(AGBU) and the Knights of Vartan in the 1930s. By 1940 he was elected Avak Sbarabed (National Commander) of the Knights, and in 1953 he was elected to the Central Board of Directors of the AGBU.

In 1953 Alex Manoogian was elected International President of the AGBU, a post he occupied with honor for 36 years. After 17 years of leadership, a time in which AGBU capital funds were raised from $8 million to over $50 million, resulting in tremendous expansion of worldwide activities, Manoogian was voted Life President in 1970, by a grateful General Assembly. In 1989, he was elected Honorary Life President and was succeeded by his daughter, Louise Manoogian Simone. At that time the AGBU's assets had already surpassed $120 million mark.

In 1968 the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian Cultural Fund was established with an initial endowment of $1 million. The fund has supported the publication and translation of many scholarly and literary works, cultural activities, and has provided assistance to needy Armenian intellectuals and educators throughout the world. Manoogian has also contributed to American hospitals, museums, libraries, universities, schools and other charitable and cultural organizations. He donated his former mansion to the City of Detroit to be used an official residence for the Mayor. Because of the generosity of the Manoogians, numerous institutions have come into existence throughout the Diaspora: The Alex and Marie Manoogian School in Southfield, Mich.; Marie Manoogian Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Alex Manoogian School in Montevideo, Uruguay; the Marie Manoogian School in Los Angeles, Calif.; the Alex Manoogian School in Montreal, Canada; the Alex Manoogian Center in Beirut, Lebanon; the Alex Manoogian Center in Zahleh, Lebanon; Marie Manoogian School in Tehran, Iran all under the auspices of the AGBU. Also, the Armenian Community Center in Almelo, Holland; the Alex and Marie Manoogian Seminary in Jerusalem; the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum in Etchmiadzin. Manoogian has been a major contributor to the American Armenian International College at LaVerne, California, the Armenian Church in Amsterdam, Holland, the Arshag Dickranian School in Hollywood and the AGBU the Alex Alexander School in Sydney, Australia. He built the Alex and Marie Manoogian School next to St. David Church in Boca Raton, Florida and the Alex and Marie Manoogian Cultural Center in Miami, Florida. In addition, he has built the Tacvor and Tacoohie Manor (a home for the aged), the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum (the largest museum of Armenian antiquities in North America), and has contributed substantially toward the St. Vartan Cathedral and Diocesan Endowment Fund in New York and St. John's Armenian Church and cultural complex in Southfield, Michigan. He has also contributed to Mekhitarist Monasteries in Vienna and Venice. When the Venice monastery met hard times, Alex Manoogian became the major contributor for its salvation. In appreciation of his contributions, Wayne State University in Detroit has named its Ethnic Heritage Center after him as the Alex Manoogian Hall. He has contributed close to $3 million to the University of Michigan to support the Gerald Ford Library and to establish two chairs dedicated to Armenian Studies-the Alex Manoogian chair for Modern Armenian History and the Marie Manoogian chair for Armenian Language and Literature. He has contributed regularly and substantially to Armenian studies programs and chairs at UCLA, Columbia University in New York, New York University, the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, the University of Leiden, Holland, University of California at Berkeley, the University of Southern California, Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts and many other educational and cultural institutions.

Throughout his life, Manoogian has contributed over $90 million to charitable, religious, cultural and educational causes. In recognition of his international philanthropy, Manoogian was awarded: the Ellis Island award from NECO and the Knight of Charity award from PIME Missionaries; the Presidential medal from Argentina; the Cross of St. Gregory the Illuminator by His HolinessVasken I, the late Catholicos of All Armenians; the First Order of the Cedars by the President of Lebanon; the Cross of St. James by his Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem; and the 50th Anniversary Medal by the Prime Minister of Armenia. Levon Ter- Petrosyan awarded him the honor of National Hero and granted him Armenian citizenship. The President of Nagorno-Karabakh, Robert Kocharian bestowed upon him the Medal of Honor of Artsakh.

Manoogian is the recipient of honorary Doctorate degrees from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich., Wayne University in Detroit, American Armenian International College in La Verne and Yerevan State University in Armenia.

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