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Armenian President Tours Fresno, Visits William Saroyan Gravesite and Museum
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 3 weeks ago on
May 8, 2024

Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan (right) tours the William Saroyan grave in Fresno, with Honorary Consul Berj Apkarian (left) and Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer. (Special to GV Wire)

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Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan visited Fresno on Wednesday, part of a six-day tour in California.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer escorted Khachaturyan to the Ararat Cemetery to lay flowers at the William Saroyan gravesite, then they went to the William Saroyan House Museum. The visit concluded with lunch at The Palms.

Dyer called the visit “a great honor.”

“It was a great opportunity to share a lot of the similarities between Armenia and Fresno in terms of the people we have here,” Dyer said. “And the thing that I didn’t realize was how much of a hero that William Saroyan was, across the world and especially in Armenia, because we sometimes take him for granted here in our own city.”

The Saroyan Theatre in downtown Fresno honors the legendary Armenian American novelist and playwright who called Fresno home.

The Fresno mayor plans to pay back the visit in October as part of a medical mission organized by local groups. Dyer said there are talks to make the Armenian capital Yerevan a second sister city. In 2020, Fresno and Etchmiadzin became sister cities.

Later on Wednesday, Khachaturyan headed to Sacramento for a meeting with Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Armenian president Vahagn Khachaturyan (left) and Jerry Dyer pay respects to legendary novelist and playwright William Saroyan. (Special to GV Wire)

Honorary Consul: Unprecedented Visit

Berj Apkarian, the Fresno-based Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia, glowed about Khachaturyan’s visit.

“It’s unprecedented. Because this is the first time, that a president of Armenia visited the Central San Joaquin Valley, and Fresno in particular,” Apkarian said. “The visit was short but very impactful, very positive, very uplifting. And I’m truly honored and excited to take part of it.”

At lunch, Apkarian said, “We talked about collaboration (and) the strong relationship between Armenia and the central San Joaquin Valley.”

Aparkian said he wished the president had more time in town to visit the Fresno State Armenian Studies program.

The William Saroyan House Museum is at 2729 W. Griffith Way in west-central Fresno. It offers an immersive, interactive high-tech experience in one of two side-by-side homes that Saroyan owned during his later years — a period in which Saroyan could often be seen riding his bicycle all over town.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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