Leavitt Family Jewish Home Celebrates Centennial Birthday of Resident and Army Air Corp Veteran Armen Tashjian
On Thursday, March 30th residents and staff of The Leavitt Family Jewish Home, a skilled nursing facility at JGS Lifecare, gathered to celebrate the birthday of resident Armen Tashjian, who turned 100 on Wednesday, March 29th. Attendees enjoyed the live musical performance of Irving Lewis singing the golden oldies, together with cake and ice cream sundaes to celebrate the joyous occasion.
Armen is a Veteran of the Army Air Corp, having served at the end of World War II. Representative Brian Ashe of the 2nd Hampden District presented Armen with a citation of congratulations from the House of Representatives in recognition of the grand celebration of his 100th birthday. “We are in session today, but I felt it was important to break away because 100th birthdays don’t happen all the time,” remarked Representative Ashe. “To see you walk in here was so uplifting, you look fantastic! I want to thank you for your service in the Army Air Corp and wish you a very happy birthday!”
Earl Godfrey, Commander of Longmeadow Post 175 of the American Legion presented Armen with a veteran pin in honor of his service. Commander Godfrey remarked, “We understand and appreciate the feeling of camaraderie that our veterans have for each other and for knowing what was… it is important for us to acknowledge and be with the people who had our back. Through the presentation of this pin we honor their service.”
Joining Armen at his table were Bernie and Lorraine Gaudette, long-time friends and neighbors, and now fellow residents at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home. Thursday’s birthday celebration was the culmination of a week of festivities, following a Friday, March 25th family gathering attended by east coast relatives, and a Sunday, March 27th centennial celebration at Armen’s beloved St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church.
Born in Springfield on Marcy 29th, 1922 to Anna and Eghishe Tashjian, Armen comes from a close and devoted Armenian family. He is the oldest of three children. His younger brother Haig, now 98 years old, also served in the Air Force as a navigator and bombardier in World War II and is an IBM retiree who now lives in California. His sister Nancy Sellarole, nearing 92, attended AIC and enjoyed a career in real estate in New Jersey until she retired at the age of 80, and now lives in Delaware. The Tashjian siblings have been blessed with great longevity! Armen has four nieces and nephews: Sandy Tashjian Kalvonjian and her husband Harry; Bruce Tashjian and his wife Beryl; Bonnie Sellarole Inserra; and Theodore Sellarole and his wife Tammy. He is also blessed with eight great nieces/nephews and eight great great nieces/nephews.
Armen’s father and uncle owned a confection store “Tashjian Brothers, – Nobility Candy Store,” located at the corner of Concord Terrace and State Street in Springfield, just south of American International College, where they sold ice-cream, candy and fruits. Armen graduated from Tech High School. He then worked at the Springfield Armory as a precision tool maker. He wanted to join the Army Air Corp as a pilot. After three deferments he joined the Army Air Corp stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, OH. The base was primarily used as a training base for B-17 and glider crews from 1942-1949. Armen served from 1943 through the end of the war. He worked on airplane engines as a flight engineer.
After his service, with the help of the GI Bill, Armen received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, where he studied photography. He enjoyed a career as a professional photographer where he worked for a time for Milton Bradley, Progressive Machines, and Westinghouse, taking photographs of their products for their sales catalogues.
While working at Westinghouse, Armen met his wife Shirley, who worked in the office. They were married for 57 years until her passing in 2015. They did not have children of their own, but they embraced others like family, including their next-door neighbors Sharon Dandy and her son Colin. Draped on Armand’s bed is a beautiful quilt with family photographs of his beloved family members who mean so much to him!
Armen is a beloved parishioner of St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in Indian Orchard, where until just 5-6 years ago he was the organist. Over the years he used his talents to take photographs of everything in the community, amassing a lifetime of memories which will become a “community album”. The parish recently created a standing committee to organize his 75 year portfolio and to eventually digitize it for perpetuity, as a historical resource and to honor Armen for his contribution and recognize his lifetime of selfless devotion to others.
His sister Nancy summed up her older brother beautifully, stating, “Armen is a gentle soul, one of the good guys!” We take this opportunity to thank Armen for his service to others, to recognize a life well lived, and to wish Armen continued happiness and good health.
About Leavitt Family Jewish Home
The Leavitt Family Jewish Home offers 24/7 long-term skilled nursing care including cognitive and memory impairment care, as well as full service rehabilitation therapies, palliative and hospice care, and certified music therapy. People of all faiths put their trust in the Leavitt Family Jewish Home. Resident-focused services are provided in a setting that is as home-like as possible, including 112 private rooms, spacious social areas and inviting dining spaces. Staff prioritizes every resident’s adjustment to illness or injury and design services to meet every resident’s individual needs. Patients’ families are also part of every comprehensive care plan, receiving support and counseling to make a smooth adjustment to care. For more information, call The Leavitt Family Jewish Home at 413-567-6211 or visit JGSLifecare.org.
About JGS Lifecare
JGS Lifecare, founded in 1912, is a leading health care system serving seniors and their families. JGS Lifecare services include nursing home care (The Leavitt Family Jewish Home), rehabilitation services (Sosin Center for Rehabilitation), assisted living (Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence), adult day health care (Wernick Adult Day Health Care), home health, hospice and palliative care (Spectrum Home Health and Hospice Care) and independent living (Genesis Lifecare). For more information, call JGS Lifecare at 413-567-6211 or visit JGSLifecare.org.