Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Dearly loved by his family and friends, Gerard Pederian died on February 14, 2021 at Sunnybrook Hospital after a devastating stroke. This intelligent, church-loving 94-year-old was born Oct. 9, 1926 in Mallawi, Upper Egypt, the eldest of two sons and a daughter. His brother is Dr. Henri Pederian of Montreal, Quebec; his sister was the late Hermine Sahaguian of Montlignon, France. Their father was a pharmacist with a pharmacy in the village of Mallawi, now a thriving city. When Gerard came to be of school age, his mother moved with her children to Cairo, Egypt where suitable schooling could be found for the children. Gerard’s father would join them on weekends.
Gerard received his formative education in Armenian, Greek, Catholic and French schools in Cairo. He read, wrote and spoke five languages: Armenian, English, French, Arabic and Turkish. An excellent student with a keen mind, he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Cairo and soon opened his own pharmacy in Cairo.
In 1956, while in mourning for his father, he met the love of his life, Seda Serobiantz, a young schoolteacher. They were married for almost 40 years, until Seda’s untimely death on August 15, 1995. Together, they raised two daughters, Annie and Alyak, and were grandparents of six (Taline, Karina and Aren; Suzanne, David and Tanya).
In 1962, Gerard and Seda made the courageous decision to move their young family of four to Toronto, Canada. It was not an easy move for them, as Gerard’s pharmacy degree and experience were not wholly accepted by the Ontario College of Pharmacy (OCP). In order to practise his profession, Gerard was required to take three pharmacy courses at University of Toronto’s School of Pharmacy. Gerard was always very proud of the letter he received from the OCP which stated that, based on his excellent marks, he would be exempted from the third course. Of course, he was still required to do the pharmacy apprenticeship. He is recognized by the OCP as a Member Emeritus for his devoted service to the profession of pharmacy. In May 2014, The Armenian Canadian Medical Association of Ontario presented Gerard with an Appreciation Award “in recognition for services rendered to the Armenian Community in Toronto as a pharmacist.”
Gerard’s career spanned several decades managing the pharmacy at the Robert Simpson Company’s downtown store. When the first mall was created in Canada, Gerard was asked to manage the Simpson’s pharmacy at Yorkdale. He worked for the downtown and Yorkdale locations of Simpson’s until his retirement at age 65.
Although much of his time was spent working as a pharmacist, Gerard always found time for his personal interest in Ancient Egyptian history, art and culture. In 1980, for the one and only time, he returned to Egypt with his family for a 3-week holiday, during which he toured historical museums and pyramids and spent time with his beloved brother Henri and his family. Gerard’s interest in Ancient Egypt led him to take a variety of courses over the years in these subjects at the University of Toronto, including courses in Reading and Middle Egyptian Grammar of Hieroglyphs. Over the years, Gerard shared his vast knowledge and interest in Ancient Egypt, astronomy, the Armenian Church, Armenian history and the Armenian Genocide through many public lectures he delivered and books he wrote. Indeed, only last fall he lectured at St. Vartan Armenian Church, speaking confidently from memory, as his vision was severely impaired by then from macular degeneration. Just last month, he published his final book on Ancient Egypt, called Selective Mystical Subjects of Ancient Egypt.
Extremely devoted to the Armenian Church and its community of faithful, Gerard had a strong Christian faith. Early every Sunday morning, you would find him at the Armenian Church, until COVID-19 restrictions shut down church gatherings last March. He was easy to find, as he always stood at the same church pillar, one identified as his when Holy Trinity was built in 1987, and he was one of the church’s 11 godfathers (one for each of the 11 church pillars). For many years, he also served on the parish council of Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church and was a diocesan delegate. As a delegate, it was a highlight of his faith to participate in April 1995 in the election of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin I in Etchmiadzin, Armenia. On his living room wall are many awards, including a prized Gontag from Catholicos Vasken I. Awards recognizing his devotion and many contributions to the Armenian Church were received in 1989, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2012, and 2019.
Gerard was also a founding member of the Toronto Chapter of The Knights of Vartan. In 1990, he was named Asbed of the Year; and in 1993, he received a Certificate of Merit for 25 years of devoted service to the Knights of Vartan.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 rules restrict the number of people permitted to be in attendance at Gerard’s funeral on Thursday, February 18, 2021 at Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Scarborough. Gerard’s friends and out of town/country family members will mourn this humble man who touched their lives with his kindness and love. We will always carry your memory in our hearts, Gerard.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Donations can be made to the Holy Trinity Armenian Church in his memory: https://www.torontoarmenianchurch.com/obituary-the-late-gerard-jirayr-pederian/
Holy Trinity Armenian Church
920 Progress Avenue, Toronto ON M1G 3T5