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Family, friends say good-bye to Walter Basmajian

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MASSENA - Walter V. Basmajian touched many people during his 90 years, and those memories should stay alive despite his passing this week, the Rev. Kathryn Boswell said during Mr. Basmajian’s funeral services on Friday at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“This service is not about death, but about life,” she told the approximately 60 people who braved a snowstorm to attend the service.

Mr. Basmajian, a long-time Democratic chairman who was known on the local, county, state and federal levels, died Monday. His term as Democratic chairman lasted more than 50 years and earned him the Silas Wright Award from the St. Lawrence County Democratic Committee.

But, the Rev. Boswell said, Mr. Basmajian was more than just about politics.

He was president of Massena Board of Trade from 1949 to 1950, president of American Armenian Hall from 1960 to 1961 and president of Massena Chamber of Commerce in 1964.

Mr. Basmajian also served as president of County Real Estate Board in 1965, president of Neighborhood Center in 1960, director of the Chamber of Commerce from 1948 to 1968, director of the County Community Development Corp. from 1968 to 1974 and director of The Salvation Army Advisory Board from 1968 to 1973.

He was also director of the Armenian Hall from 1950 to 1973, president of the Lions Club in 1968 and life member of American Legion Post 79 and VFW Post 1143.

In addition, Mr. Basmajian was a member of Amvets Post 4, life member of the Masonic Lodge F & AM 513, chairman of the Massena Industrial Development Corp. in 1977 and chairman and director of the St. Lawrence County Development Agency from 1977 until his retirement in 2007.

He also loved football, hockey and bowling and had many trophies from the Bowlmor Lanes, and had a love of animals.

“Reading about him, it was hard to believe that 90 years was long enough to do that much living,” the Rev. Boswell said.

It was natural to grieve, she said, and she encouraged it.

“It’s important to let you grieve and feel that real loss,” she said.

But it was also a time to share stories of what Mr. Basmajian had meant to everyone and remember him through those conversations, she said.

“As you grieve, it’s good to hold on to the memories,” the Rev. Boswell said. “He is not gone. We really mean it when we say whoever has faith in Jesus Christ shall live even though they have died.”

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