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John Baronian Passes Away

John Baronian Passes AwayThe former standout athlete known as "Mr. Tufts," beloved for his years of service and devotion to the university, was 87 years old.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.07.08] John K. Baronian, the 1950 graduate and Medford resident known as "Mr. Tufts" whose loyalty to the university was boundless, passed away on April 5. He was 87.

"If there were a more loyal, passionate, and committed Tufts alumnus than John Baronian, I have yet to meet him," said Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow. "There might be 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S., but in John's mind, there was only one."

The Worcester, Mass., native came to Tufts under the GI Bill in 1946, graduating in 1950 with a degree in economics. While at Tufts, he excelled as both an offensive and defensive lineman, becoming one of the school's first four-year lettermen. To this day, Tufts annually bestows the "Baronian Award" to its best linemen on both offense and defense.

After graduation, Baronian became a salesman for American Mutual Insurance Company, where he worked until 1987.

baronian250An active alumnus, he served as president of the Alumni Association from 1970 to 1972 and chair of the Alumni Athletic Association. In 1972, he was elected as a Trustee of Tufts, serving for ten years, after which he was elected Trustee Emeritus. He also received an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree in 1997.

Baronian is known in part for his extensive collection of more than 4,000 porcelain, glass, wood and bronze elephants amassed over a 50-year period of travels to Asia, Africa and Europe. The collection was donated to the university in 2003.

A devoted supporter of Tufts athletics, Baronian organized the Jumbo Club, an organization supporting Tufts athletics. In 1986, the Baronian Field House was built adjacent to the football field in his honor, with funds raised from his friends.

The Tufts graduate was especially proud of his Armenian heritage. Baronian's parents had immigrated to the United States from Armenia after what many refer to as the Armenian genocide of 1915.

Visiting hours will be held on April 9 from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church, 38 Elton Avenue, Watertown, Mass. Funeral services will be held on April 10 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Stephen's, with burial to follow at Oak Grove Cemetery in Medford. A celebration of John Baronian's life will be held in the fall at Goddard Chapel.

Memorial gifts may be made to Saint Stephen's Armenian Church or Saint Stephen's Armenian Elementary School, 47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown MA 02472.

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