SOAR - St. Louis Chapter

St. Louis joined the SOAR family in November 2012. During the first decade of the 20th century, a group of immigrating Armenians settled in St. Clair County. Industrial East St. Louis provided opportunities for those seeking jobs. Most planned to return to Armenia, but some wanted to become permanent residents of the United States. The first Armenians to settle permanently in St. Clair County were Mr. and Mrs. Arman Magarian, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Fouryigian, and Mr. and Mrs. Hampartz Vartanian.

In St. Clair County the Armenian population grew to several hundred, with one count going as high as one thousand. In East St. Louis, they lived near Brady, Broadway, Converse, Division, Gaty, Kansas, Missouri, and St. Louis Avenues, and between Tenth and Nineteenth Streets. Many started to work at the Granite City steel mills. Others began small businesses. Armenian-owned grocery stores, dry cleaners, ice cream shops, and taverns.

Of the first Armenian children to arrive, some graduated high school, but most ended their schooling in the freshman or sophomore year to help bring in more income for the family. But for the first generation of American-born Armenians things were different. Most completed high school and some went on to college and to graduate school to become attorneys, accountants, doctors, and teachers. As the children immersed themselves in America, they also held on to their heritage. The Armenian Women’s Education Association, founded in the late 1920s, taught the Armenian language and culture.


Jane Ebel

In a conversation with a relative at a recent family reunion, Jane learned more about SOAR ‘ s mission and vision. Deeply moved and eager to help, she volunteered to serve as president of the St. Louis chapter. Jane is a retired schoolteacher who is a wife , mother, and grandmother. Over the years she and her husband have hosted several children in their home who live in Haiti. They were able to come to St Louis for heart surgery or other serious medical problems. Back at home, they can now face their tough world with hope and stronger bodies. It has been satisfying for Jane and her husband to play a small part in this success.

God allows us many opportunities to serve others. Every day we can reach out to those in need. SOAR transforms lives in a positive way and Jane is drawn to be part of this endeavor. She feels it is an honor to begin this journey with SOAR and is happy to be on board!

Diane Cash

Diane Cash was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. She currently lives in St. Charles Co. Her niece, Kristen Tumanyan, is also a member of our SOAR chapter. She enjoys hanging out with Kristen and her family. Diane loves helping others in her spare time.

Armen Tumanyan

Armen Tumanyan was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, and came to the US as a refugee in 1993. He graduated from St. Louis University in 1998 with a degree in chemistry. Later, he graduated from SIU – School of Dental Medicine in 2002. Armen has two dental practices in St. Charles, MO (suburbs of St. Louis). His family includes his wife and 3 kids.

Kristen Tumanyan

Kristen Tumanyan grew up in St. Louis, MO. I currently live in St. Charles, MO with my family. I am married to my husband, Armen, and have three wonderful children. I am currently pursuing my Bachelors Degree in Nursing from Barnes Jewish College (Godfarb School of Nursing).