Ann Araxi Durgerian passed away at her Arcadia home on July 29th, 2015, after a 10-year battle with multiple myeloma.
Born in San Bernardino in June 19, 1936 to Simone and Araxi Kurkjian, Ann joined elder brother Andrew in the family home. Ann’s grandparents had been sent to the United States in the run up to the time when the Ottoman Turks planned and committed the Armenian Genocide. While fortunate to be alive, the once wealthy family was now destitute. Ann and Andy joined Simon and Araxi working on the family farm, raising chickens. Ann’s parents ultimately opened a market in San Bernardino, with Ann buying produce by nine years old.
Ann grew up in and around the Armenian Church and community, where she met Jerry Durgerian, marrying him May 17th, 1964. Two sons soon followed: George in 1966 and Michael in 1968.
While Ann’s parents could not afford to send her to college, she ended up with a “real life” education in how to run a small business called Carousel Toys, later Carousel Baby Furniture. Ann and Jerry worked six and sometimes seven days a week, with shifts that sometimes ran to 17 hours during the holidays. The business succeeded in no small part due to Ann’s work ethic, customer service, and networking skills. The store attracted civic leaders, celebrities, and TV studios as well as a loyal following of parents. Ann’s passion for babies’ safety and then-new baby car-seats landed her on “Good Morning LA,” and “Hour Magazine” as well as other shows. She was also featured on news channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 as an expert on child passenger safety.
Appropriately labeled “Supermom” by George and Mike’s friends, Ann decided working seven days wasn’t enough, so she volunteered to help with her sons’ organizations including Indian Guides, Cub, and Boy Scouts.
Ever supportive of her sons, she permitted them to race BMX bikes, join the Peace Corps, and travel the world.
While at Carousel, Ann participated in five chambers of commerce, and after 35 years at Carousel, Ann and Jerry “retired” by volunteering for even more community work, including Soroptomists and the Sierra Madre Garden Club. She was also an active supporter of San Gabriel Valley Music Theater, Sierra Madre Playhouse, and Daughters of Vartan. At Jerry and Ann’s 50th wedding anniversary, Jerry named many other organizations Ann supported with her time and energy.
Ann also worked at nine area hospitals, teaching new parents about the importance of child passenger safety. She continued this work at Arcadia Methodist for 33 years. Ann’s work led to city, county, state and national awards.
When Durgerian officially retired, she squeezed in time to travel with Jerry, among devoting time to nonprofits.
“We went to Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and throughout Europe on river cruises,” Jerry said. “Even though she was suffering in the end, she never complained…she was always concerned about my health and that of others…”
Perhaps her highest honor was the Salvation Army’s “Others” award, given to Ann and Jerry this past June, in recognition of her extensive volunteering and support for her community.
Ann is survived by her husband Jerry, sons Michael and George, and grandchildren Aram, Aidan, and Anya Durgerian.
Service: Celicia Armenian Evangelical Church.