John Avak Arikian died August 22, 2019 surrounded by his cherished wife of 48 years, three adoring daughters, and treasured grandchildren who affectionately call him “Bompa.”
John blessed so many lives in his 84 years full of loving, teaching, giving, thinking, and creating. He loved a house full of family and friends, and no one left hungry. John was known for his charm, generosity, and ability to enter a room and know at least five people. Always quick to find the positives and crack a joke, John kept his family smiling until his final hours.
The youngest of five children, John was born in 1935 to an Armenian Shepherd and an Italian Sweetheart. He met the love of his life Judy at one of his famous Houseboat Parties in the Summer of 1971 and wisely married her two months later.
John was an unimaginably caring and doting father. He attended each and every one of his children’s dance recitals, sporting events, musical performances, and award ceremonies with a gigantic video camera attached to his shoulder. He patiently sat through many hours of his daughters’ dramatic home theatrical and musical extravaganzas. He enjoyed driving his girls to school still wearing a sweat band, sweatsuit, and workout towel draped across his neck. He took great pride in stocking his daughters’ college tool boxes, especially with pocket flashlights.
John’s love of teaching extended to his family in so many ways, not the least of which was encouraging his daughters to be patient loving mothers to his grand babies. Bompa displayed his love by famously lulling his cherished children and grandchildren to sleep humming made-up tunes, gifting flashing plastic holiday jewelry, and bringing home chocolate half-moons, brownies and cinnamon buns before anyone had even requested such a treat. As an aficionado of Classical and Organ Music, he was delighted that his children and grandchildren inherited a love for music.
First and foremost John was a father, grandfather, and husband. His career exemplified his desire for children to learn and succeed as he served as an Educator for over 50 years in various capacities. John started out teaching 6th grade. Then he held positions as an elementary supervisory teacher, elementary principal, a coordinator of elementary instruction, and retired as the Assistant Superintendent for Educational Information and Support Services for the Elmira City School District. John also spent the summer of 1963 in West Africa teaching for Operation Crossroads Africa, the precursor to the Peace Corps. Following retirement, John taught at Corning Community College for 18 years. Additionally, John served the greater good of the Twin Tiers communities and served as a Board Member of numerous associations including the United Cerebral Palsy and Handicapped Children’s Association (now known as Able2), and the Board of Selective Service. He also served as a member of the Himrod NY Volunteer Fire Department, and the Town of Southport Zoning Board of Appeals. John was also part owner of Chemung County Radio stations WIQT and WQIX.
John is survived by his wife, Judith Wilber Arikian; daughters, Michele A. Ferreira (Chris) of NJ, Melissa J. M. Arikian (Scott Milburn) of MN, Aimee J. S. Arikian (Jon Sitzer) of MN; grandchildren, Zachary John Ferreira, Ellie Josephine Milburn, Vencil Peter Milburn, Osten Oskar Milburn, Lucy Judith Sitzer, and Henry Avak Sitzer; his sister Lucille Arikian Panosian; and so many special nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, exchange student daughters, and dear friends. His warm hugs, lengthy conversations, and big bowls of Itch salad will be deeply missed by us all.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Avak and Josephine Mann Arikian; in-laws, Donald and Helen Wilber; brother, Peter Arikian; sisters, Marian Rudd and RoseMarie Cornish; niece, Sandy Panosian White; and grandson, Oskar James Milburn.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, those wishing to do so may consider donating to one of the following:
UR Medicine - Wilmot Cancer Center 601 Elmwood Ave Rochester, NY 14642
Himrod, NY Volunteer Fire Department 3530 Himrod Rd., Himrod, NY 14842
First Presbyterian Church 1054 W. Clinton St. Elmira, NY 14905
Care First in Steuben County, NY 3805 Meads Creek Rd. Painted Post, NY 14870
No services will be held at this time. Please join his family in remembering John by his favorite sayings such as:
“It is what it is and becomes what you make of it.” John exemplified this outlook and encouraged others to look at the glass half full.
John learned from his Father: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” In turn his perseverance and hard work exemplified this wisdom and reflected another favorite phrase “Do the best you can plus a little bit more.”
As he said to his children and grandchildren: “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” Anyone who knew John realized he was a humble, gentle soul and that his family was his number one priority.
Lastly and most importantly, John’s strong Christian faith can be summarized by his favorite bible passage from Romans 8:38-39:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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