Kevork Kololian had come to Toronto from Cairo with his wife Armenoohy and two young children Vahan and Nairy. He had a pleasant and joyful personality with good humor and was fun to socialize with.
Kevork personified the dreams and ideals of all those who wanted to build an Armenian school and youth center for the young Armenian generation to be able to keep their Armenian identity and language. Here it will be fair to say that, building the school was “given”. If there was one common understanding among everyone involved, it was the building of the school.
At the time naming the School ARS (Armenian Relief Society) was the decision of the ACC (Armenian Community Center) executive “Gomidai”. In reality, ARS members initially refused to give their concession because of the very expensive nature of the initiative, but after Gomidai took full responsibility for raising the funds, ARS agreed.
The school became and still is the ACC’s most expensive undertaking. The success of the school is the result of the support of every organization under the umbrella of the ACC especially so of the ARS which is the school’s biggest financial supporter. THANK YOU ALL.
I do not recall Kevork being a member of any organization under the umbrella of the ACC, but he was a member of many committees from planning to the construction and the management of the School and ACC at 45 Hall Crown place. He was a practical man with no patience for details. He was a “doer” and not a man for “meetings” Ժողովական especially so for long meetings, and best personified the Armenian saying “Հացով փիլաւ չեփիր”.
Kevork was an excellent fundraiser and a good public speaker as well. While the construction was going on, monthly fundraising meetings were scheduled at the Travel Lodge Hotel at 55 hall Crown Place next to the ACC. (Currently Radisson?). The fundraising meetings were planned for about twenty to thirty people selected as possible doners “Նուիրատու”. Kevork was at his best at these meetings. He eloquently explained the project on promotional drawings. After the meeting, a tour was conducted at the actual site of the building that helped make the project “real”. It was very successful.
Kevork himself became the biggest personal financial contributor of the School and the elementary part of the school is named “Kololian Elementary School”. Kevork was also instrumental in obtaining a large donation from Babayan Foundation. The kindergarten part of the school is named Babayan Kindergarten. (Babaian couple belonged to the first generation of immigrants in Toronto in the early 1900 and have been among the founders of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church (HTAC). They left all their wealth to Babayan Foundation chaired by Hayg Selyan).
Selyan couple had come to Toronto from Cairo. They are a very mild-mannered and courteous couple and have been very active in the Armenian Community activities and played a leadership role in HTAC. At their advanced age, they are keeping their leadership role in the Babayan Foundation. The last time I met Hayg in the church a few months ago, he looked frail but said “I will keep my promise to Mrs. Babayan to lead the foundation as long as I am capable. Աստուած առողջութիւն, ուժ, եւ կարողութիւն տայ.
When Kevork was on the management committee of the new center there was a need for a new Manager and an ad was placed in a Montreal Armenian newspaper. We got a call from Nubar Seropian interested in the job. When asked on the phone to send a resume, he said “that will be easy, because I have worked only in one Pharmaceutical Company since my arrival from Cairo about twenty years ago”. He volunteered to come to Toronto any time we wanted for an interview. (At the time his daughter and her family were living in Toronto)
At the next management committee meeting when Kevork learned about Mr. Seropian’s interest in the job and willingness to come for an interview, the ever-practical Kevork said something like “we found the best manager we could have, and no need for any interview give me his phone number I will call him and tell him to come and start working, the issue solved, Հարցը լուծուեցաւ let us talk about the next item on the agenda”. He proved to be right. Needless to say, we had more than one meeting with Mr. Seropian before he was hired.
Mr. Seropian was maybe in his mid-sixties, with graying hair, a mild-mannered, and courteous man. He was a meticulously well-dressed and organized person. He was “cool”, an attentive listener, and an assertive person. He had the ability to capture the essence of the management meetings and implemented the resolutions very efficiently. He prepared detailed contract agreements that included the table arrangements on scaled drawings and seldom left things to be resolved at the last minute. I think Mr. Seropian became one of the longest-serving ACC managers.
Kevork’s last successful initiative was the establishment of the much-needed old age home in Toronto. An old-age retirement home for Toronto Armenian community was discussed many times but never got on the drawing board so to speak. There was a government program that if you owned the land they will provide the money to build the facility and after thirty years the building also will be owned by ACC. At that time ACC and School were operating with big deficits, plus a large mortgage that could hardly be met, and thus, this much-needed project was not pursued vigorously.
I was not an active member of the ACC when the seniors home was established. But I think it was Kevork’s personal initiative and it succeeded mainly through Kevork’s negotiating skills and leadership. Basically, he made a deal with a large old age home to allocate a section of their newly built Scarborough location to house Armenian old age patients where Armenian speaking volunteers will work to help the patients feel better, interact with each other, and get the necessary help. The need was there and it worked rather well and still does.
Kevork died at an advanced age and is survived by his wife Armenouhi, who is a loving and caring great grandmother, his son Vahan, who is a successful businessman and heads the Kololian Charitable Foundation, and his daughter, Nairi Kololian Shahinian is a very active member of the ARS organization and the school. Աստուած հոգին լուսաւորէ.
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian.