Rotary Club of Winchester

 
For most in the room today the name  Albert "Al" Hovannesian has no significance. If you were told he was a Past President of this club you could research the club site, find the list of past presidents and find the name Hovannesian at number 45 out of 90 and that's about all the information available. I would like to give you a little insight into who Al was besides a name on a list....

 
 
For most in the room today the name  Albert "Al" Hovannesian has no significance. If you were told he was a Past President of this club you could research the club site, find the list of past presidents and find the name Hovannesian at number 45 out of 90 and that's about all the information available. I would like to give you a little insight into who Al was besides a name on a list.

The poet in some of us emerges with a Death. When we lose someone we admire suddenly it becomes easier to wax poetic about them. Prior to their passing we have too often been lulled into a state that has us believe that there is no urgency or there is plenty of time to catch up, to make that visitation or to pick up the phone. 

This attempt at a suitable eulogy for Albert "Al' Hovannesian has a cathartic quality for me. Al was small in stature but a man of great stature.

His obituary reads in part:  HOVANNESIAN, Albert S. Of Winchester, February 10, 2016. Beloved son of the late Michael and Osanna Hovannesian. Graduate of Tufts University School of Engineering Class of 1946, Member of Tau Beta Pi, Founder and President of Diamond Antenna and Microwave Corporation, Former President of Winchester Rotary Club.

There was a lot more to Al than those few words. That being said I know very little about Al's early years and any documented biographical material starts with the early 40's when he entered Tufts on the GI bill so we can safely assume that he had some level of military service during WWII.
Al spent his first two years at Tufts working his way through school as a night shift machinist. He finished his education with the help of the GI Bill, and obtained a degree from the Engineering School in 1946 with a Tau Beta Pi Key. Tau Beta Pi is the national engineering honor society. He served on the Tufts University Alumni Council with distinction for almost 30 years. Al was a charter member of the Jumbo Club, which supports Tufts Athletics,  he also has been active in 11 reunions and had been associated with the Boston Tufts Alliance and the Tufts Club. He also is a member of The Charles Tufts Society open to those who endow the university through philanthropy. 

Al's great love of education and his fondness for his Armenian heritage led him to establish three scholarships for Tufts students: the Hye-Hovannessian Scholarship, given to undergraduates of Armenian-American descent; the Hovannesian-Howorth Scholarship Fund, in honor of his former secretary, Mrs. Claire L. Howorth, to provide aid to electrical and mechanical engineering students whose particular interests are in microwave technology; and the Albert S. Hovannesian Scholarship for students in the undergraduate colleges.

He also sponsored the Hye-Hovannesian Fund at Bentley College.

After a stint at Raytheon, he founded and served as president and CEO of Diamond Antenna and Microwave Company of Winchester in 1956, conducting important work with antennas and radar. He was an inventor who held numerous patents involved around antennas and microwave applications. Al sold the business in 1994.

Those of us who knew Al remember a brilliant individual who also was kind of impish in his humor and the lover of a good time. A confirmed bachelor he was a dedicated brother and uncle.

Al's membership in this club was two-pronged. Since club record keeping of 50's and 60's  is scant the best estimate is that he joined the club in the late 50's. After proving himself as an exemplary member he was elected to the Board of Directors and served as president in 1969-1970. Of his presidency Al said: "it was the longest, most thrilling, single experience in my life-time and career."

This timeless Armenian proverb best describes Al's presidency:
 
A gracious leader attracts humble followers
who will help him prevail through every difficult struggle.
They will strive cooperatively  for all to thrive.
Never asking for recognition or a bribe.
 
Al served with distinction. He used his experience and wisdom to motivate, inspire and guide. Rotarians were supposed to make a difference and Al lead with that mantra. He was a responsible leader who helped the club to carry out the organization's mission while maintaining their values. He firmly believed that Rotary is a club dedicated to serving the communities in which we live and our end goal is to make the community a better place for all people. That is how Al lead. He was a man of uncommon generosity who would dig deep into his own pockets when warranted as if it cost him nothing.

Al was the first Winchester Rotarian to receive a Paul Harris Fellow. It was conferred on him in 1972.
Al resigned from Rotary in the early 70's for a number of reasons but  Rotary was always on his mind and in his heart. His support of the club never wavered during those years of his absence. In 1994 he sold his business and in 1996 he rejoined the club he loved. He had missed the camaraderie that he found, the friendships that he made and the opportunity to unite with other members in team work to achieve a common good for the betterment of others.

The last number of years were not kind to Al as he suffered with numerous health issues that precluded him from attending meetings. He will be sorely missed but not forgotten and he will always remain number 45 on the list.

In closing I would like to quote another famous Armenian American. One who had that same rascality that Al was famous for and whose words describe the path of life followed by Al.
 
In the words of Bob Keeshan: (aka Captain Kangaroo)
It requires more strength to be gentle, so it’s the everyday encounters of life that I think we’ve prepared children for and prepared them to be good to other people and to consider other people.

Al, thanks for your friendship and service.