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George Adzigian, long-time Wellesley resident and WWII veteran, dies

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#1 JagdtigerI



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Posted 22 July 2009 - 04:36 AM

"Longtime Wellesley resident George Adzigian carried two wallets around with him.

One held money and the various notes he fastidiously took about subjects that interested him, especially the stock market and the economy. The other was filled with photos of his daughters.

“When we were growing up, the question that was always asked of mom and dad was, ‘What, no sons?’” said Sally Mayhew, one of Adzigian’s four daughters. “Daddy would go, ‘No, I have four great daughters.’ He would say, ‘No, I don’t have any sons. Why do I need any?’ And he would flip open the wallet and all these pictures that were in these plastic sleeves would cascade out.”

Adzigian, who his family said was Wellesley’s oldest World War II veteran, died of kidney cancer on July 17. He was 95.

Some in town might be familiar with Adzigian through his years of involvement with local veterans groups. Others might remember him as the custodian at Upham, where he worked for almost 30 years. An active member of the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church, Adzigian was an usher until recently.

“He loved to talk to people,” said daughter Caroline Stilp. “To me, it seems he made an impact in people’s lives. And it was a positive impact.”

Adzigian was the type of man who, when diagnosed in 2004, never referred to the disease as cancer. Instead, it was his “infection.” He would write weekly letters to his daughters, signing each one with a smiley face and a note to remain positive. He tried to keep up with the times and his grandchildren, calling money by the slang term “lettuce” and reading up on the latest health trends.

In 1942, when Adzigian was in his early 30s, Uncle Sam came knocking. Along with his younger brother, Ned, Adzigian was drafted to fight in World War II. Adzigian’s brother was training to be a doctor and was assigned to be a medic. He was sent to the front lines and saw a lot of action, while George was a mechanic with the United States Air Force. Stationed in England, he would fix the B-17 bombers that came back.

During this time, Adzigian had some of the best times of his life, making memories he would go on to describe to his family in great detail. He regaled his daughters with stories of flying over the French Alps, bribing a guard in Ireland with cigarettes to let him sit on a throne and just traveling all over Europe.

“I don’t mean to use the words that he loved the war, but I think he loved the experience that he was serving his country,” said Betty Ule, Adzigian’s daughter who lives in West Roxbury. “And he got an opportunity to travel, which he probably wouldn’t have been able to if he had been here in the States. … That was a very important time for him.”

Born on Oct. 26, 1913, in Stoneham, Adzigian took family and responsibility very seriously. His family moved to the United States from Armenia years before, but the culture was still present. If something happened to the father, the eldest son took over. And although he was the fourth child out of five, Adzigian was the oldest son.

That meant that after his father died, Adzigian, at age 20, became the patriarch of the family. He gave up scholarships to go to college and an apprenticeship to be a pharmacist in order to get a job and support his mother, three older sisters and younger brother. He never complained, his daughters said.

“If he was put in a position that he needed to be responsible for something, whether he wanted to do it or not, there was no question. This was what he had to do,” Stilp said. “Even if he wanted to do something else, it wouldn’t bother him. He wouldn’t sit there and be upset about it. He just accepted the responsibility.”

During the war, Adzigian didn’t forget his family. He would send money from every paycheck to his mother and sisters. He would also frequently write back home, including in his letters articles to go in the local paper. He wrote some about the war, but even more about his travels.

He was discharged in December 1945. His brother continued with medical school and ultimately moved the family to Wellesley, to a home on Cliff Road, in 1947.

It was in Wellesley, at the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church, that George met his future wife, Jeanne McLea. The two raised their four daughters on Cedar Street. Although he was strict, Adzigian was also a very loving father who encouraged all of his children to get the most education they could. They all have received at least a bachelor’s degree.

Up until almost the end, Adzigian remained true to himself. When he was in the hospital just weeks before he died, his family brought him some of his favorite dessert, fruit tart. Although he hadn’t been eating much due to pain, he gobbled down the cake.

“He gave a big thumbs up. It was so cute,” said his granddaughter, Jessica Stilp. “It was so him.”

A private interment will be held at Woodlawn Cemetery on July 22 followed by a memorial service at Wellesley Hills Congregational Church at 10:30 a.m. Donations may be sent in memory of Adzigian to Homes for Our Troops, Homes For Our Troops: Building Specially Adapted Homes for Severely Injured Veterans.

George Adzigian, long-time Wellesley resident and WWII veteran, dies - Wellesley, MA - The Wellesley Townsman

"If you want peace work for justice" -Pope Paul VI


#2 robbielynne


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Posted 22 July 2009 - 06:17 AM

May He Rest In Peace...:S!
"You must love soldiers in order to understand them, and understand them to lead them."
-Henri Turenne
"Reason and calm judgement, the qualities belonging to a leader." -Tactitus 55-177

#3 replicaprada



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Posted 29 July 2009 - 12:50 AM

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