“Robert” (Bob) Sahag Damerjian was born March 24, 1934, to David and Tevolinda Avsharian Damerjian in Philadelphia. His mother had immigrated from Beirut, Lebanon, while his father owned a shoe store in downtown Phila. He had 5 sisters, one older, the late Deskouhy Attarian, and 4 younger, the late Hermine Karakashian and Serarpy Eskindarian, and is survived by Berjouhy Bosnian and Linda Vishab.
He lived with his family on Wayne Ave. in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Bob graduated Germantown High in February 1952 and was a very popular student where he was the Vice President of the student body, and a member of the track, gymnastics, soccer, football and baseball teams. Most notably, Bob won the side horse (pummel horse) Championship in the city of Philadelphia, state of Pennsylvania and Middle Atlantic AAU before graduating, and he practiced with a horse in his basement.
Bob earned a 4 year scholarship in gymnastics to Temple University where he majored in business administration and finance. He graduated in February 1956 with a B.S. in finance. He served as captain of Gymnastics in 1955 and won a number of metals, and he was both the eastern and NCAA champion of the Sidehorse. He was also on the soccer, track, and baseball teams for all four years. He was a member of the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity and president of the finance society in the school of business. During the summers he worked many jobs and most notably in 1955 in Ocean City where he experienced fond memories before entering the world of business.
Upon graduating in February 1956, Bob was accepted into the Philadelphia Federal Reserve bank executive training program, one of 4 in the United States and the only student in the history of Temple. While there from February 1956 to February 1958, he attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to obtain his MBA during the day session. In addition, he completed 60 hours of graduate work towards a PhD. He then joined the Fidelity Philadelphia Trust Company in Philadelphia (now called Wells Fargo). He became the youngest officer in the bank’s history as assistant treasurer in 1960 at the age of 25.
In May 1962 he joined Schroders Trust Company and the J Henry Schroders Banking Corporation in New York as youngest Assistant Vice President in their history, which was the New York operation of the largest merchant Bank in London.
Before leaving Philadelphia, Bob was also an instructor of banking at Temple University evening school of business starting in 1960 to 1981. He also taught at Drexel University school of business for two years. He commuted by train to New York for 10 years from 1962 to 1972 from Wyncote/Glenside, PA. During the summer he commuted from Belmar, New Jersey where the family had a summer home.
On September 15, 1962, he married Lorraine Hintlian Damerjian of Newton Center Massachusetts, later of Belmont, after having met at an Armenian dance and an ensuing long distance relationship.
While at Schroders he advanced to Vice President and treasurer and eventually Senior Vice President and treasurer. He was a member of the money market and Wall Street clubs. He published a book entitled “The role of municipal bonds in the country bank portfolio.” He also wrote the weekly article for the Armenian Banker entitled “speaking of governments“ referring to the government bond market, for almost 12 years without missing a single week. It was published under the name “Stonewall“. He also published over 40 articles for the commercial and financial chronicle weekly magazine, bankers monthly, and other financial publications, including Temple University school of business bulletin.
In January 1972 Bob joined Girard Bank in Philadelphia, which subsequently became Mellon Bank, as SVP in charge of the bank‘s portfolio, all bond, money market and equity trading, and became Executive VP in 1978. He was also Director of the Studly Sherbet and company, owned by Gerard Bank, and served as director at William Penn Bank, Publicker Industries, PHICO Insurance, Annenberg school and theater at the U of Penn, Philadelphia Stock Exchange (PSE), Stock Clearing corporation, and served on a number of committees at the PSE, where he owned several seats at the board of trade.
From many years, Bob was featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer financial page as “quotables”. He was also for many years a spokesperson from the Girard Banks money market division on KYW 1060 AM radio. For 7 years he served as a trustee at Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA as well as chairman of the finance committee and a member of the executive committee.
While at Gerard, Bob formed the Philadelphia Money Market Association and was its first president and Director for many years. He was also a member of the advisory board for the city of Philadelphia Pension Board. During his tenure at Gerard, he taught at Temple University, Drexel Institute, the Pennsylvania Bankers Association school at Bucknell University and the federal reserve system international classes in Washington, D.C. For over 20 years he was a member of the Philadelphia Security Association and served several years as a Director.
Bob was also a trustee and chairman of the finance committee for many years of United Hospitals, which included Saint Christophers Hospital for Children, Warminster General hospital, Lawndale Medical Hospital, and Rolling Hill Hospital, subsequently part of Tenet Health Care.
In 1982, with several associates, he formed the Financial Options Group, Inc. in Philadelphia to execute foreign exchange options contracts at the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. He was one of the founders of creating the foreign exchange trading concept at the exchange, and FOG became the largest foreign exchange options brokers in the US. The group sold the company to Manufacturers Hanover Trust company in New York, now part of JP Morgan Chase. He ultimately retired from FOG in 1985 and became a private investment trader.
On May 9, 1988, Bob was awarded the certificate of honor from Temple University General Alumni Association from the School of Business and Management at the Gala celebration.
Bob was a trustee of Holy Trinity Armenian church and chairman for several years. He also served on the new church building committee, investment committee, and co-chairman of the project 2000. He helped carry the church through a difficult time of transition when there was no priest. He was as a regular greeter and distributor of moss (blessed bread) on Sunday services and he was a member of the Knights of Vartan. He was a deeply spiritual and prayerful man which helped direct his life. He had many many close friends that he had developed over the years and was known as a pillar in the church, along with his wife who has played the organ and cooked for the church regularly for 40 years.
Bob was a modern day renaissance man, an extremely talented person, besides everything he accomplished in his career as just described.
He enjoyed sailing, and owned his own small yacht called the Vardig which moored in Belmar, NJ, where he purchased his first summer home at 308 1/2 13th Ave. and where his family and relatives spent summers in the earlier years. After a gap of a couple decades, he purchased another home in Ocean City on 4th St, where his extended family including the Boston cousins, grandchildren, and other relatives would visit every summer, and he maintained everything himself up until just a few years ago.
Bob also dabbled in real estate land development in New Hampshire with his brother-in-law Harry Hintlian, and Pennsylvania, as well as the parcel development of Long Island in Cundy's Harbor, Maine. Personally he loved the peace, serenity and fresh air of the island life more than the busyness of the Jersey shore, so much so that he had a beautiful 4 bedroom house built on the island, complete with gas generator, propane fridge, and water usage supply from the roof. And he was prepared with all the tools needed for any necessary repairs. He invited many friends and family over the years to come and stay to enjoy the Maine lobsters supplied by his good friend Dick (and wife Melinda) Prosser, whose daughter to whom he sold a piece of land for a single dollar so that she could build her own home to meet the zoning standards of the town.
Bob was very handy, and enjoyed tinkering with cars and engines since childhood. He owned and personally fully refurbished a 1930 Chevrolet pickup truck, as well as owning a replica 1901 Oldsmobile buggy that his children enjoyed driving around the church parking lot across the street for many years. Along with his good friend Richard Nasife, he fully updated the home basement with paneling/shelving. He decorated it with many antiquities and countless liquor miniatures collected in his travels to work in NYC. Essentially he could figure out how to fix just about anything.
His talents even extended to playing the piano by ear, which we think he may have learned at the fraternity, as he never had any formal lessons.
One of his greatest accomplishments and hobby was his stamp/first day of issue cancellation collection which is the largest single one specifically for the July 4th 1976 strip of 4 stamps representing the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the creation of which encompassed many years of planning and collecting from countless sources. Further, this included a second collection of first day of issues for stamps of the 13 original colonies (states) ratifying the signing of the US Constitution from 1987 - 1990 and involving travel to all the states to complete it. And then for many years, up to only recently, he would go to downtown Philadelphia for every July 4th celebration to collect further stamp cancellations at the B. Free Franklin post office, and he dragged along anyone who was willing to come. His love for first day of issues further expanded to creating collections based on stamps issued for Benjamin Franklin and William Saroyan. His collections have found temporary homes in Executive Board of Directors rooms and the Franklin Institute. In totality these collections span thousands of envelopes and other documents like commemorative brochures/programs, maps, photos, newspaper articles, you name it - anything that could receive an ink cancellation mark. He personally framed everything in a tasteful/creative manner, in hundreds of frames of all sizes, some too heavy to lift. He was so generous, giving much of his handiwork to friends and family who could enjoy a piece of his passion for years to come.
Bob and Lorraine also loved to travel in their earlier years. With their wonderful friends, they planned trips to far-away places like Hong Kong, Greece, Spain, Italy, Monaco, Germany, Austria, Thailand, Brazil, Montreal, Alaska, England, and always had a great time.
Bob was a great financial provider for his immediate and extended family, and extremely generous with everyone he came in contact with. Starting with his mother Tevolinda, he brought her in to live with his wife/children when it was time for her to move from her own home after all her last children had moved out, and he supported and loved her for the remainder of her life. He paid for all his childrens’ college educations freeing them from the burden of debt that can make getting a running start after college more challenging. He taught his children conservative principles and to be thrifty and how to save and invest for the future. Taking it further, he opened his home to his cousins/relatives by sponsoring them as they immigrated to the US from Armenia and Lebanon, and also helped them get situated with their first homes.
Even as busy as he was with work, he made some time to get involved in his children's sports and activities like baseball and scouting, even serving as a Webelos Den leader.
And in all of this, he treated everyone fairly, with gentleness, respect and patience, with impartiality and without holding any grudges or bad feelings towards or saying bad things about anyone. He loved everyone he came in contact with, whether family or not - he was accepting of everyone regardless of faith or background or work/social status.
He absolutely adored his sisters, cared deeply about his nieces and nephews, and always kept us up to date on their goings-on over the years as they grew up and had their own children. And he treated his inlaws like his own family. He adored his grandchildren and always looked forward to seeing and spending time with them. Unlike many men, he had developed the ability to comfortably share his feelings and emotions, while showing compassion and empathy which drew people close to him.
He had one unique sense of humor. He loved to tell the same jokes repeatedly as if they were being told for the first time. His most notable requirement was that we all needed “tickets” for dinner for Christmas and other gatherings.
Bob loved and cherished his wife deeply and always put her first. He never raised his voice or yelled or disrespected her, but was gentle, and they were both devoted to and served one another until his death.
Bob leaves behind his wife Lorraine of 59 years, their three children, David, 56 (and his wife Liesje and their two children David Jr and Jessica residing in Reading MA), Robert Jr, 55 (and his former Wife Melody with their three children Dominique, Robert and Michael in Moorestown NJ) and Michele 52 (and her husband Allan Bengelsdorf and children Dina , Ari, and Rachel of Middletown, NJ.), sisters Berjouhy Bosnian, Linda Vishab, sister-in-laws Arlene and Mary Hintlian, brother-in-laws Arnold Hintlian, Martin Attarian, John Eskadarian, Vincent Karakashian, and 18 nieces and nephews, great nieces/nephews and numerous other cousins/second cousins and relatives.
At this time we would like to thank all his family and friends who made him a special part of their lives and we extend our deepest appreciation for the pouring out of support from all.
May Bob’s legacy inspire us all to be the best we can for one another in our own lives.
Relatives and friends are invited to his viewing on Friday March 18, 2022 from 9am to 10:30am at Holy Trinity Armenian Church, 101 Ashmead Road, Cheltenham, PA 19012. Funeral Service to follow at 10:30am. Interment in Whitemarsh Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers donations to Holy Trinity Armenian Church would be appreciated.
A Memorial Luncheon will follow the burial at Holy Trinity Armenian Church.