Haig H. Najarian, 86
PORTLAND -- Haig H. Najarian, 86, passed away at home Dec. 2, 2011. He was born in Nashua, N.H. on Jan. 5, 1925, the son of Armenian parents, Hagop Najarian and Antaram Najarian (nee Shamlyian), who had emigrated separately from eastern Turkey in 1909 and 1921 respectively. His mother was a survivor of the Armenian genocide.
Haig grew up in Millis, Mass., poor in money but rich in love. Armenian was the main language spoken at home with his parents and older brother Varant, who died in 2002. Haig was a star basketball player at Millis High School and at that time went by the nickname 'Hugga.'
A veteran of the United States Army, Haig spent 15 months in Europe. In 1945 he was in Germany with the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, which provided security for the famous Potsdam Conference.
Believing at an early age in the value of education, Haig received a B.S. in zoology in 1948 from the University of Massachusetts, an M.A. in biology in 1949 from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in zoology in 1953 from the University of Michigan.
In 1957, he married Mary A. Been. The pair had met in Detroit, Mich., where both were employed in the research department of the pharmaceutical company Parke, Davis, and Company.
Before coming to Maine, Haig taught or assisted at Northeastern University and Wayne State University. He was an assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas from 1960-1966. Haig traveled extensively throughout his life. Notably he studied blood disease as a scientist for the World Health Organization in Baghdad, Iraq in 1958 and experienced the turmoil of the political revolution there.
Haig was a full-time professor of biology at the University of Southern Maine in Portland from 1966 until the very day he died. He was the chairman of the Science and Math Division from 1967-1971 and chairman of the Biology Department from 1971-1975. Haig drew much joy and satisfaction from his connection to the world through his students. His love of his chosen field and his dedication to teaching inspired thousands of University of Southern Maine students over the years, many of whom went on to careers in the medical field. He was proud of the fact that, in his later years, he was teaching the grandchildren of earlier students. Many parasitology students admired Haig's unique learning structure, which guided students to answer three key questions: how does a person become infected; how do we know the person is infected; and what should be done to counter the infection?
Haig was the author or co-author of over 40 scientific publications and the author of three books: Textbook of Medical Parasitology, Patterns in Medical Parasitology, and, the favorite of his wife and children, Sex Lives of Animals Without Backbones.
Even at 86, Haig climbed ladders to paint his house and dug holes for his wife Mary's new shrubs. He was an enthusiastic bargain hunter and gift-giver. An avid student of history, he published articles and spoke on a number of occasions about politics in the Middle East. His hobbies also included reading history and biographies and doing body work on vintage cars.
Haig will be deeply missed by his surviving family: wife Mary; children Andrea, John, and Steve; daughter-in-law Kimberly; granddaughters Tracy, Tess, Kelly, Leah; and nephew Robert.
Family and friends are invited to attend graveside services to be held 11a.m. Saturday Dec. 17, 2011 at the Evergreen Cemetery 672 Stevens Ave. Portland. Please visit www.jonesrichandhutchins.com for additional information and to sign Haig's guestbook. Arrangements are being handled by the Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home 199 Woodford St. Portland.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to: The Armenian General Benevolent Union 55 East 59th St.,
New York, N.Y. 10022-1112
Haig H. Najarian
Jones, Rich & Hutchins
Funeral Home & Cremation Service
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Dec. 4, 2011