Gerard L. Cafesjian
Gerard Leon Cafesjian is a businessman and philanthropist who founded the Cafesjian Family Foundation (CFF), the Cafesjian Museum Foundation (CMF) and the Cafesjian Center for the Arts.
Mr. Cafesjian was born April 26, 1925 in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His parents had come to the United States preceding the Armenian Genocide by the Turks in 1915.
After amphibious training, he served in the United States Navy in WWII aboard JP Morgan’s yacht, the Corsair III, built in 1895 and renamed the USS Oceanographer. The ship did extensive survey work in and around Guadalcanal and other Solomon Islands. He also served aboard the USS Andres (DE45), a destroyer escort for convoys from the United States to North Africa. When he returned after the war he married Cleo Thomas, a nurse he met during the war. He earned a degree in economics from Hunter College, and a doctorate of jurisprudence from St. Johns University Law School, both in five and a half years. He is a member of the New York Bar Association.
He began his career with West Publishing as a legal editor in New York City. He was the first employee in the history of the 100-year-old company to be transferred from any subsidiary company into the home office in St. Paul, Minnesota. At West Publishing he rose through the ranks to the position of executive vice president; overseeing sales, marketing, customer service, public relations, all Westlaw office training and development. At West, he also conceived of and started the West Legal Directory and a well-known program, “Art and the Law”, which earned he and West numerous awards.
Mr. Cafesjian retired from West Publishing when it was sold to Thompson Publishing in 1996. He felt his destiny was to help the country of Armenia, which had gained its independence after hundreds of years of subjugation under various rulers. The time and circumstances and confluence of resources would help him make a difference for the country.
He received accolades and recognition from both the United States and Armenia institutions, including the Ellis Island Award in 2000.
Mr. Cafesjian also assembled a group of properties in Washington, D.C., two blocks from the White House. The intention is the building of an Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial, but due to continuing litigation, the project remains unrealized and still in limbo awaiting the outcome for still another time killing appeal. Mr. Cafesjian won the basic lawsuit and was awarded the property to do with as he wished. The community is hoping the museum will be built by April 2015 in time to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the 1915 Genocide. Each day it is held up lessens that possibility. If the unnecessary litigation from which lawyers have reaped literally millions of dollars is not concluded soon there may be no museum at all. Mr. Cafesjian is 88 years old and has spent over 25 million dollars and endured unfair, untrue criticism by people who do not bother to even acquaint themselves with the facts of the case.
(You can read it at: http://www.leagle.com/xmlresult.aspx?xmldoc=In%20FDCO%2020110126C84.xml&docbase=CSLWAR3-2007-CURR) And who themselves have contributed nothing in materials or even moral support. Some are doing a better job of holding up construction of the Memorial than the Turks could.