On November 7, 2014, nearly 300 guests gathered at the Rockleigh Country Club in Rockleigh, New Jersey to celebrate Vartan Abdo’s dedication to the Armenian community of the tri-state area. In 1979, Abdo founded the Armenian Radio Hour of New Jersey, a bilingual radio program that highlights the week’s political and cultural happenings in the worldwide Armenian community. Abdo has volunteered his time and efforts as director without interruption for the past 35 years.
The evening’s lively program was emceed by the Toufayan siblings, Kristine Casali, Karen Nargizian and Greg Toufayan. In addition to a screening of two videos-one prepared by AGBU on Abdo’s life of service and the other prepared by the volunteers of the radio hour as a tribute to their mentor-the Shushi Dance Ensemble performed to the delight of the audience. The highlight of the evening was the awards ceremony where Abdo was presented with a series of accolades. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church relayed the blessing of His Holiness Karekin II by inviting Abdo to the podium to receive a special encyclical and the St. Sahag and Mesrob Medal.
Zohrab Mnatsaganyan, the ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations, bestowed upon Abdo the Movses Khorenatsi Medal on behalf of President Serzh Sargsyan. Dr. Dennis Papazian also presented Abdo with a gold medal from the Knights of Vartan. AGBU President Berge Setrakian ended the ceremony by offering Abdo a commemorative glass plaque.
Setrakian continued the festivities with a congratulatory speech, emphasizing Abdo and his wife Adi’s commitment to their heritage. In his own speech, Abdo thanked Nila Festekjian, the chair of the tribute committee, and Berge Setrakian for hosting the special evening. He also gave a heartfelt thanks to his wife, who has constantly stood by him.
“It is not possible to thank all the many individuals who so generously gave of their time and talent towards the success of the banquet. The honor bestowed upon me has brought new meaning to my work with the radio and even more so to my life. I am greatly indebted to AGBU,” said Abdo.
The Armenian Radio Hour of New Jersey is a two-hour long program that airs every Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M. on WSOU 89.5 FM. It is also available to stream on the show’s website.