Mr. Harry Topoozian of Fresno has donated $10,000 to Fresno State to establish the Harry and Mary Topoozian Armenian Studies Merit Scholarship Endowment Fund. The annual income from the endowment will be disbursed in the form of scholarships to students enrolled at Fresno State.
The Outstanding Achievement Scholarship will be awarded to a student who is or has enrolled in one or more Armenian Studies courses and has demonstrated the most outstanding achievement in overall academics, leadership, and community service.
A general scholarship will also be awarded to students enrolled in one or more Armenian Studies Program courses and who have demonstrated excellence in scholarship.
During his childhood, because of the necessity to work on his father’s farm, Harry Topoozian never got the opportunity to get a higher education. His decision to fund a scholarship was based on his desire to see that students could get the opportunity he never received. He also wanted to give something back to the Armenian community and his heritage.
Harry Topoozian is a life-long farmer and businessman who was born and has lived his entire life in Fresno. His late wife Mary Kazarian Topoozian, was born in San Francisco and attended Catholic schools. Upon Harry’s return in 1945, after serving in the U.S. army during World War II, he quickly got back to work at his family farm. In June of 1947 he was introduced to Mary by a mutual friend and they were married in December of the same year.
Harry Topoozian’s parents, Mugrtich and Zartar Topoozian, were from Kharpert and immigrated to the United States before the Genocide. They raised six children. Mary Kazarian Topoozian’s parents, Abraham and Eva Kazarian, who were natives of the Tabriz region near Lake Urmia, lost three children in the Genocide. One child, Robert Kazarian, survived the Genocide, and currently resides in the Bay area.
The Kazarian’s, after their arrival in the United States, had four more children. Mr. Topoozian is a veteran of World War II who served in the 3rd Army, 974th Field Artillery Battalion under General George S. Patton. As a cannoneer he received the Certificate of Merit for Meritorious and Outstanding Performance of his duties. He landed at Omaha Beach and was stationed and fought throughout France, Belgium, Germany, England, Austria, and Luxembourg. He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. His children say that Mr. Topoozian’s greatest pride is growing quality grapes to produce an outstanding raisin. Mr. Topoozian has a “green thumb” for growing vegetables and is especially known for his ability to grow delicious tomatoes. For a number of years he and his brothers Joe and Bob grew, packed, and shipped tomatoes throughout the world.
Mary Topoozian was a homemaker who initially knew very little about farming (having been raised in San Francisco). She quickly learned the family trade and provided support and assistance to her husband. She was devoted to raising her five children, often times sacrificing personal activities. She was noted for her ability to cook and bake and both she and Harry especially loved to make Lahvosh on a monthly basis, knowing that it was Harry’s favorite food. She was a member of St. Gregory Armenian Church and a member of the Executive of the Ladies’ Society of which she had been a member for over 40 years. Like her husband she was an avid sports fan, especially fond of the San Francisco 49’ers and Fresno State athletics. She also enjoyed watching her children play sports.
Harry Topoozian is the father of five children: Tom Topoozian, Dr. Mark Topoozian, Nancy Topoozian, Christine Sahatdjian, and Karen Sahakian, all of whom graduated from Fresno State. Mr. Topoozian has nine grandchildren whom he greatly enjoys. Four of his grandchildren currently attend the Armenian Community School of Fresno.
Mr. Topoozian is a Benefactor of the Armenian Community School of Fresno and a long time supporter of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church. He is a lifetime member of St. Gregory Armenian Church of Fowler.