Longtime local dentist Harry Moordigian Jr., a major Fresno State supporter who played a key role in supporting the university’s counseling center, died Nov. 11. He was 76.
Dr. Moordigian was raised in Sanger. A graduate of Sanger High School and the then Fresno State College, he served in the U.S. Army, then got his dental degree from Washington University in St. Louis. He was a practicing dentist for 41 years.
Last year, he donated $200,000 for a microbiology laboratory for the Jordan Research Center that will bear his name when construction on the northeastern edge of the campus is completed.
Dr. Moordigian also donated $200,000 last year to the Fresno Family Counseling Center, a low-cost provider operated through Fresno State’s Kremen School of Education. The counseling center has about 90 master’s students and master’s graduates counseling families as they work toward their licensing requirements.
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Chris Lucey, a marriage and family counseling professor at Fresno State and director of the Fresno Family Counseling Center, credits Dr. Moordigian’s donation and passion for bringing theprogram to university officials’ attention.
The center serves families that normally couldn’t afford counseling services. Ten years ago the center offered fewer than 500 sessions a year. Today, it offers nearly 10,000, he said.
“Harry got things moving so the university is full-throttle behind it,” Lucey said. “Our students call Harry our guardian angel.”
Dr. Moordigian’s parents were Armenian genocide survivors. His mother died of cancer when he was 3 years old.
He had a letter from his mother, which Dr. Moordigian described as his introduction to her. He showed the letter to Lucey and other faculty at Fresno Family Counseling Center and they determined from reading it that his mother suffered from depression.
That led to Dr. Moordigian’s donation.
“The letter told about how she struggled,” Lucey said. “He said he doesn’t want people to have to carry what she carried all those years.”
Dr. Moordigian’s donation was a huge boost for the counseling center, which had been in financial trouble, Lucey said.
“Harry’s gift has taken a lot of pressure off because we weren’t sure we would be able to keep the doors open,” he said. “People know us better now and the potential to continue to grow because of Harry is incredible.”
Dr. Moordigian also was a member of the Bulldog Foundation and a donor to Fresno State’s Armenian Studies Department and athletic programs.
In a statement, Fresno State President Joseph Castro called Dr. Moordigian a close friend and “one of the most loyal alumni Fresno State has ever known. Through both his 41-year career in dentistry and his decades of philanthropic work, Dr. Moordigian directly improved the quality of life for countless people. He will be deeply missed.”
Remembrances can be made in Dr. Moordigian’s name to the education or agricultural departments at Fresno State or the California Armenian Home.
Dr. Harry B. Moordigian
Born: Jan. 14, 1939
Died: Nov. 11, 2015
Survivors: Daughters Lisa Moordigian and Gina Dean; ex-wife Judy Moordigian.
Services to be private.