Fresno State alumnus and longtime supporter Dr. Harry B. Moordigian, Jr. passed away on Nov. 11 in Fresno. He was 76.
An active supporter of Fresno State since the 1970’s, Dr. Moordigian’s contributions benefited numerous University programs including the Bulldog Foundation, Armenian Studies, Athletics, the Kremen School of Education and Human Development and the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.
In 2007 he honored his parents, Harry and Nevart Moordigian, by establishing an Ag One endowment to support students in the Department of Viticulture and Enology.
“Dr. Moordigian was a close friend, an extraordinary man and one of the most loyal alumni Fresno State has ever known,” said University President Dr. Joseph I. Castro. “Through both his 41 year career in dentistry and his decades of philanthropic work, Dr. Moordigian directly improved the quality of life for countless people. He will be deeply missed.”
On November 30, 2015, Castro ordered the University’s flags be posted at half-staff in memory of Dr. Moordigian and his legacy of support. Dr. Moordigian was a veteran of the United States Army who served two years in Korea.
The only child of Armenian immigrants, Dr. Moordigian was raised on his family’s grape ranch near Sanger. He said that much of his philanthropic work was done in honor of his parents.
In 2014 Dr. Moordigian gave $200,000 to the Fresno Family Counseling Center, a low-cost provider of counseling services run by Fresno State’s Kremen School of Education and Human Development. At the time of the gift, Dr. Moordigian said his interest in the center was rooted in a decades-old letter written by his mother.
“My parents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide,” Dr. Moordigian said. “Through this letter, I learned that in addition to my paternal grandfather, my mother’s father had also been killed in the Genocide when my parents were very young.”
He said she was able to escape to America and start a family, but died of cancer when Dr. Moordigian was just 3-years-old.
“This letter is how I finally met my mother. And when I realized what she went through without any counseling, it just tore me apart,” Dr. Moordigian said.
He shared the letter with faculty at the Fresno Family Counseling Center and learned that his mother likely suffered from depression. “I said to myself, OK, I want to support what they are doing for the community in memory of my parents.”
Also in 2014 Dr. Moordigian established an Ag One endowment to enhance the Jordan Agricultural Research Center’s microbiology laboratory. When the research center opens in spring 2016, the space will be named the Dr. Harry B. Moordigian, Jr. Laboratory and will be used by students and faculty to research microorganisms in food processing and wine production.
Dr. Moordigian’s final gift to Fresno State was made earlier this year when he established the Nevart Moordigian Endowed Scholarship Fund in support of the South Valley Education Initiative, an effort to improve academic achievement for South Valley students.
He is survived by daughter Gina Dean, her husband Nathan, and their two sons, Griffin and Nicholas, of Fresno; daughter Lisa Moordigian of Texas; ex-wife and friend Judy Moordigian and many cousins and friends he considered family. While services for Dr. Moordigian are private, family members say that his life will be celebrated in the spring prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Dr. Moordigian Laboratory.