Ara Karekin Pridjian, beloved husband of the late Anahid Pridjian, cherished father of Ara, Claudia, and John, passed away on Monday October 15, 2018 at his home in Palos Heights, Illinois. Ara was born to parents Karekin and Pauline Pridjian on the south side of Chicago on March 18, 1926. He attended Brenan Elementary and Fenger High School, and received a Bachelor of Philosophy and a Master of Business Administration at the University of Chicago. During college years he worked at the Museum of Science and Industry as elevator operator of the coal mine. Ara had a sense of theatrics, and enjoyed shining his headlight into the eyes of guests, telling them they were being lowered to the center of the earth. Whether fact or fancy, he claimed to have demonstrated a penchant for causing the Museum's model railroad trains to crash. Ara served in the military, was deployed to Germany, and was honorably discharged PFC. He ran the family business, KA Pridjian Rug Company on 116th and Halsted for 50 years. All of his children and most of his nephews and nieces worked at 'the store,' learning important lessons in life as did the men and women who worked for him.
Ara was introduced to the love of his life, Anahid Doumanian, by her Uncle Hampartzoum Kelikian in 1957. Ara was smitten, and he and Anahid were married a few months later. They lived in Roseland until 1971, then moved to Palos Heights. Ara and Anahid opened their home and supported family members as they came to the United States, pursued education and professions, and became Americans. They loved entertaining, and Ara was famous for his humor, burning meat on the grill, eating homemade pickles and drinking Johnnie Walker with his brother-in-law after church, and making Anahid roll her eyes, shake her head, and say 'Oh Ara.'
With the University of Chicago as foundation, Ara was a lifelong scholar with interests in Philosophy, Religion, and Science. He had questions and opinions, and loved being with educated people with whom he could disagree. He encouraged his children and grand-children to study, achieve, become renaissance women and men, and to have their own questions and opinions. He was persistent and stubborn, particularly as related to his sense of what was right. Ara was a Toastmaster, and attended monthly meetings at the YMCA. First, refining his public speaking skills, then coaching others as they learned to communicate and take their places in the community. Ara attended Sts. Joachim and Anne Armenian Apostolic Church. He was president of the United Armenian Cultural Association, raising awareness of Armenian history and culture within and outside the community. He loved his family vacations, taking walks on the beach with his wife, napping under her umbrella, fishing with his grandchildren, and enjoying nightly excursions for ice cream.
Ara loved his grandchildren. When he was around them he would become animated, burst into song, and jump up and click his heels. He amused with stories of how he won the second world war with Eskimo Pies, worked as a lion tamer, and played professional baseball as Dizzy Dean Pridjian on the West Pullman Panthers. He and Anahid loved and were proud of every one of them.
Whether it was his opinions or humor or sense of fairness or being stubborn, Ara affected everyone around him. He will be deeply missed by his children Ara, Claudia (Levon) Nazarian, John (Gayane), grandchildren Candice (Mark) Reppell, Andrew, Karekin, Matthew (Veronica), Daniela, Gregory, Lori, Ani, and great grandson Grayson. Visitation will be at the Becvar and Son Funeral Home at 5539 W. 127th Street in Crestwood, IL on Friday October 19 from 5 to 9 PM. Funeral services will be held at Sts. Joachim and Anne Armenian Apostolic Church at 12600 South Ridgeland Avenue, Palos Heights, IL. at 10 AM on Saturday October 20. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Sts. Joachim and Anne Church with the memo: Pridjian fund.