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Charles H. DeMirjian, veteran, marketing whiz, and proud Armenian American, dies at 95

Philadelphia Inquirer logo Philadelphia Inquirer 4 days ago Gary Miles, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Charles H. DeMirjian, 95, of Media, a veteran of World War II, a marketing innovator at DuPont, and an engaged Armenian American, died Monday, March 8, of heart disease at home.

A creative artist with a mind attuned to leadership and merchandising, Mr. DeMirjian spent 37 years at E.I. du Pont de Nemours Co., and rose to marketing and communications director for the consumer products division.

Beginning in 1954 until his retirement in 1991, Mr. DeMirjian worked on, among other things, marketing strategy, package design, advertising, and media communications for many of the company’s most notable successes.

He worked on popular campaigns for Rain Dance car care products, Corian countertops, and Stainmaster flooring, and won three CLIO Awards for excellence in international advertising, design, and communication.

A museum patron his whole life, Mr. DeMirjian created the Charles DeMirjian Collection at the Hagley Museum in Wilmington after he retired. It features examples of DuPont packaging, advertising, and other items that commemorate the company’s marketing history from the early 1940s through the 1980s.

“He was creative and energetic, and he saw people for who they were,” said his daughter, Susan.

Mr. DeMirjian was born Aug. 20, 1925, in Philadelphia to Minas and Keghany Demirjian, Armenian immigrants and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and he helped his parents navigate their new lives in America. His father was a metalsmith in Turkey, and Mr. DeMirjian, who later capitalized the M in his name for easier pronunciation, inherited his father’s skill and appreciation of craft and art.

He graduated from West Philadelphia High School in 1943, enlisted in the Marine Corps on his 18th birthday, and served in the Pacific theater until he was honorably discharged in 1946. Wanting to work as an artist, he used the GI Bill to study at the University of the Arts, and the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism.

His first advertising job was with Sunray Drugs in 1950. He joined DuPont in 1954, and described his job this way: “Transposing business objectives into advertising and merchandising strategies.”

A member of the American Management Association and the New York Design Council, he loved working with other designers, illustrators, and writers, and often made time to visit museums or catch a jazz concert when he was in New York or elsewhere.

He courted Diane Zobian, a fellow member at the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church in Havertown, and found they had common passions for family, art, music, and literature. They went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and worked a crossword puzzle on their first date.

They married in 1952, had daughter Susan and sons Timothy and Michael and lived in West Philadelphia, Swarthmore, and Media. Mr. DeMirjian was “demonstrably affectionate (to her delight!)” with his wife, his family wrote in a tribute.

He also liked to help the kids with their writing and art projects, and he took them to many museums and concerts. A tenor, he sang in the church choir and joined the Philadelphia Chamber Chorus after he retired.

Mr. DeMirjian was an avid photographer and recycler. At church, he was a Sunday school teacher, chair of several boards and committees, youth director, and deacon. The church’s Charles DeMirjian Music Fund was established in 2004 in recognition of his musical leadership.

In the wider community, he served, among other roles, on the boards of the Armenian Missionary Association of America and the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America. He wrote the words on the commemorative plaque on the Meher statue that stands outside the Art Museum.

In 1997, Mr. DeMirjian described his philosophy on practically everything like this: “You brought a challenge to fruition, and when it worked, it was enormously satisfying.”

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. DeMirjian is survived by four grandchildren, one great-grandchild, one sister, and other relatives. One sister, two stepsisters and two stepbrothers died earlier.

A service is to be held later.

Donations in his name may be made to the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church, 100 North Edmonds Ave., Havertown, Pa. 19083.

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