Sarkis Acopian (1947)
Having come to the United States as an immigrant in the mid 1940s, Sarkis Acopian,
founder of Acopian Technical Company, attended Lafayette College in Easton, PA.
During his time at Lafayette, he was called to serve in the U.S. Army. After being
honorably discharged and returning to Lafayette, he graduated in 1951, earning a
bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After graduation, Mr. Acopian
was employed by Weller Electric Corp., where he designed a power sander and a soldering
gun that became two of its main products.
Since his childhood, Sarkis dreamed of owning his own business. With just a small loan to start his own company and achieve his share of the American dream, he began by designing and manufacturing the first ever solar powered radio, a milestone of 1957 technology. The Acopian Solar Radio was promoted as ‘Revolutionary - No Batteries or Outside Electrical Plug-ins - Uses light for its source of energy.’ This invention led Sarkis on the path to the power supply business which is still operating today as the Acopian Technical Company.
Sarkis Acopian (1947)
Sarkis Acopian was more than just an outstanding entrepreneur. He loved outdoor
adventure and throughout his life he was an avid pilot who flew his corporate aircraft
between his company’s manufacturing facilities in Easton, PA and Melbourne,
FL. He was also a scuba diver and a skydiving enthusiast who made more than 200
jumps during the pioneering days of the sport in the early 1960s. But where he really
made his presence known was in his philanthropic work.
Sarkis was a self-effacing man who passionately believed in supporting the community
quietly but with unmatched generosity. He made numerous donations to local, national
and international causes that have included the Acopian Engineering Center at Lafayette
College, the Acopian Center for Ornithology at Muhlenberg College, the
for Conservation Learning at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
, The Nature Conservancy’s
Acopian Bog Turtle Preserve, donating the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in
Ottawa, Canada as well as endowing educational programs at the American University
of Armenia, Lafayette College and the Florida Institute of Technology.
Mr. Acopian’s passion for his faith led him to donate funding for the building
of three churches: St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina,
built in memory of his beloved mother, Dr. Arax Acopian; St. Hagop Armenian Apostolic
Church in Gyumri, Armenia, built in honor of his granddaughter Ani; and St. Mesrop
Armenian Apostolic Church in Yerevan, Armenia.
Sarkis Acopian (2005)
In the later years of his life, he assembled a team of ornithologists from around
the world to work towards publishing a field guide on the birds of Armenia in hopes
of introducing the newly independent former Soviet Republic to the idea of environmental
conservation. A Field Guide to Birds of Armenia was published in 1997. The first
accurate map of the newly independent Republic of Armenia was also published as
a result of the Birds of Armenia Project.
Acopian was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition
of Organizations, the St. Gregory the Illuminator Medal by the Armenian Church,
and he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Muhlenberg College.
As an immigrant to this country, Mr. Acopian was eternally grateful for the opportunities
offered to him here. He showed his great sense of gratitude to his adopted country
by being the largest individual donor to the World War II Memorial in Washington,
DC. This generous contribution was unknown to the public until after Sarkis passed
away in 2007. Pennsylvania Congressman Charles Dent, in a speech before the United
States House of Representatives commemorating Sarkis’ life, recounted the
story behind the WWII Memorial where in return for his contribution, Sarkis only
asked for a seat at the dedication ceremony. Due to extremely limited seating at
the dedication ceremony, he decided not to attend, giving up his seat so that another
veteran could attend.