Elida Nerso Telfeyan died on March 29, after a short illness. She was 97.
Elida was born in Brooklyn on Oct. 21, 1921, a few years after her parents, Zarouhi Boligian and Haig Nerso, escaped from the Turkish genocide of the Armenians.
She grew up in Jackson Heights and, at age 18, married Sarkis Albert Telfeyan, MD, in 1940 when he was a medical student at the University of Chicago. She was the devoted wife for 66 years, until his death in 2006.
Her adored brother, Edward Haig Nerso, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was killed in action off the coast of Salerno on Sept. 11, 1943, and awarded the Purple Heart. It was a tragic loss that she carried with her throughout her life.
Elida was a scholar and an avid reader, always studying the arts, literature, music, sociology, science, religion and politics. Her nightstand would often contain as many as six different books she was reading at any one time and she devoured each day’s New York Times. She earned her BA from Adelphi University, summa cum laude, at age 54, and together with Sarkis, completed a master’s degree in Public Health Administration from CW Post, LIU, at age 60. They cherished their master’s program and worked diligently together on their assignments. It was another chapter of their partnership in life.
Elida worked closely with Sarkis in his medical practice spanning 60 years and managed other medical practices in Great Neck for more than 50 years.
She served as vice president of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) for several years, serving on a number of AMAA committees, including the scholarship and orphan committees. She was executive vice president of the Telfeyan Evangelical Fund for more than 30 years, running the day-to-day operations of the family philanthropy (established in 1916 to help needy Armenians around the world) with Sarkis, who served during those years as president.
Elida was active in the Community Church of Great Neck, where she was a long-standing member of the choir and served on various committees. She also sang in the Ocean Grove choir during the summer months and was an active member of the Ocean Grove Women’s Auxiliary, participating in events and fundraising.
Above all, Elida created a dynamic and loving world for her family and for the countless relatives and friends who came within her gracious light. She embraced the lives of her children and participated in all of their educational experiences and careers wholeheartedly. She loved her dogs and relished their unconditional love always.
She had boundless energy, finding time to make gourmet dinners, sew or crochet beautiful clothing for herself and her daughters, design the remodeling of her two homes and entertain with relish. Hers was a warm and joyful home to enter. Her strength and determination kept her love of life and experience alive against many odds.
Elida lived a rich and full life, residing to the end in her Great Neck home of 70 years. She touched all who knew her and will be missed beyond words. She loved life to the fullest and is surely with us today.
She was predeceased by her husband, Sarkis, and was the beloved mother of daughters, Lael and Daphne (Ken), and sons, Edward (Jeri) and Bruce (Connie); loving grandmother
of Brad (Kelly), Keith, Jennifer (Max), Phil and Chloe; and adoring great-grandmother of Henry, Gus and Abby.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 15, at 2 p.m. at the Armenian Evangelical Church at 152 East 34th St., between Third and Lexington avenues, in New York City.
Donations in her memory may be made to the Telfeyan Evangelical Fund, 31 Laurel St., Garden City, NY 11530; Armenian Evangelical Church, 152 East 34th St., New York, NY 10016; Armenian Missionary Association of America, 31 West Century Rd., Paramus, NJ 07652; Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, 54 Pitman Ave., Ocean Grove, NJ 07756; Equal Justice Under Law, 400 7th St., NW, Washington, DC 20004; or any animal welfare organization.