Remembering Harold DeMirjian: A Founding Pillar of Merdinian

It is with heavy hearts and profound sorrow that we announce the passing of Harold DeMirjian, a remarkable individual who played a pivotal role in the establishment and growth of the C. & E. Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School. Reflecting on his extraordinary contributions, we extend our deepest condolences to his wife Frances, family members, and loved ones. On behalf of the Merdinian Administration and Board of Directors, we take this moment to honor his extraordinary dedication to our school.

Harold DeMirjian's journey began in Aleppo, Syria, and continued in Los Angeles, where he met Frances Mooradian at Gethsemane Armenian Church. Their marriage in 1955 marked the start of a lifelong partnership in service and dedication. As Harold pursued a degree in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC), Frances temporarily left college to support their family. Harold's innovative work at Getty Oil led to the development of revolutionary oil production technologies that transformed the petroleum industry, including the concept of reducing the viscosity of molasses-like oils, and increasing market value for Getty Oil. Over his 30-year career, Harold held high management positions and was known for his expertise in the field. 

The late Rev. Dr. Giragos Chopourian, then the Executive Director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) introduced our school’s co-founder and namesake Elise Merdinian to the AMAA and its programs, and along with the encouragement of Harold, she was moved to donate $25,000 as seed money to initiate an Armenian Evangelical Day School in the United States. In 1984, Ms. Merdinian appointed Harold as a Trustee of the Elise Merdinian Living Trust. Little did he know that this appointment would transform him into Elise's caregiver for the remainder of her life, becoming a "baba" to the Merdinian School and a beloved son to her. 

Before the school's official opening, Harold could be seen scrubbing desks and chairs, painting classrooms, cleaning bathrooms, and ensuring the premises were prepared to welcome the students. His involvement went beyond administrative tasks; he mowed the lawn, served as a handyman and janitor, and even addressed the children at chapel once a week, sharing the story of their benefactress, Elise Merdinian. Years later, when the neighboring bank building (the current “Boulghourjian” Hall and administration office) was purchased, he utilized his negotiation skills and, along with his brother Koko, built a new stage, created a kitchen from a small file room, and installed essential appliances. 

Elise Merdinian's greatest joy was interacting with the children in the schoolyard and joining them at lunch. Harold facilitated these interactions, taking her to school, managing her banking, arranging for domestic help, and accompanying her to doctor's appointments. After her passing, he undertook the responsibility of planning her funeral and preparing the obituary. Upon retirement in 1985, Harold continued to serve on many professional, cultural, and philanthropic boards, including as a member and chairperson of the Merdinian Board of Directors for many years. 

"Mr. DeMirjian's visionary leadership not only built the school but also paved the path for my own education and hundreds like me who attended and graduated from the only Armenian Evangelical School in the United States,"  said Nerses Aposhian, the current Chairperson of the Merdinian Board of Directors, who also served on the Board with Harold in 2018. " As we mourn his passing, we also celebrate the enduring impact he has had on the foundation of our institution, and we pledge to carry his vision forward into the future. He was truly a legend."

In 2017, Merdinianschool honored Mr. & Mrs. Harold and Frances DeMirjian at its 35th Anniversary Banquet with the "Lifetime Achievement Award" for faithfully serving the school for many decades.

The C. & E. Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School owes a debt of gratitude to Harold DeMirjian for his unwavering dedication and service. His legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of all those touched by their generosity and devotion. May his memory be a blessing, and may his spirit continue to inspire us all.

Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday, November 15th, at 9:00 a.m. at the Hollywood Forest Lawn in the Red Church.


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