George Nersessian; ex-store owner had passion for writing

The Boston Globe

George Nersessian; ex-store owner had passion for writing

By Casey Farrar, Globe Correspondent

For nearly four decades, George Nersessian of Chestnut Hill owned five local
retail stores. When he retired in the late 1980s, he pursued an interest in
writing and wrote two books — one in English and one in Armenian.

Mr. Nersessian, former owner of The Plaza Men’s Stores and author of “For
Love and Honor,” a story of his parents’ survival during the Armenian
genocide in 1915 and his experience in a German labor camp during World War
II, died Friday at Boston Medical Center of congestive heart failure. He was

Born in Orestias, Greece, to Armenian parents, Mr. Nersessian spoke Armenian
and Greek. A standout soccer player, he joined the Greek national soccer
team and had planned to go to the Olympics when Greece was invaded by
Germany during World War II.

With his Olympic dreams dashed, Mr. Nersessian remained in Nazi-occupied
Greece until he was captured and taken to Stuttgart, Germany, to work in a

“The Germans were on the streets in these open two-seater cars . . .
patrolling the streets of Salonik, gathering the youth to take them to
Germany,” his wife, B. Betty (Maranjian), said yesterday. “George had a lot
of Jewish friends, and he went looking for them because he was devastated,
but he was grabbed up and put in a line to go to work in a factory with many
other Greek youth.”

Mr. Nersessian went to a factory called Salamander in Germany, where he
stitched boots for German officers until his release after the war, his wife

In 1950, Mr. Nersessian, along with his sister, mother, and two brothers,
moved to the United States. He learned English — his fifth language after
picking up German and Turkish during World War II — while running a small
dry cleaning business in Dorchester, his daughter Sonya said.

He met his wife at a picnic in Massachusetts on Independence Day in 1953,
and the two married five months later.

They had two daughters, Sonya and Seta, and opened their first of five
retail stores in Dedham in 1959. The company expanded to three branches in
Dedham, one in Hanover, and one in Watertown.

After a heart attack in the late 1980s, Mr. Nersessian decided to retire
from the retail industry. He had his first short story published shortly
afterward, in the Navasart Literary Journal, a monthly magazine out of
California that was printed in Armenian.

“He had wanted to continue his education in Greece after high school, but
the war and all these events happened, so he never got to go,” Sonya said

Mr. Nersessian eventually began writing fictional short stories for the
monthly journal, and in 1991 published his family memoir in English. Four
years later, he released a book of collected short stories written in

Mr. Nersessian made frequent trips to Armenia with his wife. In 1998, he
funded the renovation of the only Armenian Apostolic Church in the city of
Ichevan, about 60 miles from the capital city of Yerevan. The Nersessian
family attended the church’s consecration ceremony. Former president of the
Dedham Rotary Club, Mr. Nersessian was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow by
Rotary International, and in 1998 he was named Man of the Year of the
Knights of Vartan.

In addition to his wife and two daughters, Mr. Nersessian leaves a sister,
Sarui; and four grandchildren.

Funeral services are private.

© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.