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George H. Babikian


1927 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
George H. Babikian Obituary
October 6, 1927 - October 17, 2015 George Babikian lived a principled life of accomplishment and purpose that made him the personification of the American dream. Born in Fulton, NY to a loving family of Armenian immigrants with little in the way of material things, he believed and adhered to the principles of hard work, honesty, taking responsibility, fair treatment of others and, above all, that deeds matter far more than words. Graduating high school early, he enlisted in the Navy, and after discharge he enrolled at Syracuse University on the GI bill, which he often referred to as the "best investment the government ever made". Upon graduation, and after a second tour of duty in the Navy, he married Mary Ann Buell in 1954, beginning a happy partnership that would grow through the next 61 years and result in the close family of two children and seven grandchildren that he considered his crowning achievement. In 1954 he also joined Atlantic Refining Company as a "sales trainee", beginning a 40 year career that would "draw rave reviews from analysts and industry observers" according to a LA Times article written about him in 1990. He would retire from ARCO in 1994 as president of the ARCO Products Company, having along the way made ARCO the top retailer in the West Coast market with innovations that other oil companies were forced to copy. He pioneered the self serve gas station and the subsequent development of the am/pm minimarkets to fill the former service bays of Arco stations. He made Arco a cash only business for an interval that drove gas prices lower and had other companies respond by charging two prices at the pump, a cash price and a credit price. He was instrumental in bringing some of the first low emission gasolines to market, and served as Arco's (and in many ways the oil industries) spokesman through the 1980's and early 1990's by following his instincts and "speaking very openly with the press at a time when other oil companies were of course not speaking very much" (LA Times 8/24/1990). His influence on the oil industry is evident even today. After retirement he served on many advisory boards, most notably on the board of trustees at Syracuse University from 1994 to 2008, and he remained thankful for and humbled by the opportunities offered him, willingly giving his time and expertise in gratitude to any who had helped him through the years. The motivation for his life of achievement was family. He steadfastly pursued a course that would bring honor to his family, taught without compromise but with much love the dictates of ethical living, and provided for them not simply to make things easier but to allow them to reach higher by standing on his shoulders. He left this life peacefully, with his family at his bedside, without regret, knowing he had done his best, and that it was pretty darn good. He is survived by his wife MaryAnn, his son George and his wife Mary, his daughter Erin, and grandchildren Nick, Alex, Rudy and Georgia Babikian, and William, Kelly and Erin Owen. Memorial Service November 7, 2:00 at The Neighborhood Church, 415 Paseo del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA. Reception to follow.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 22, 2015
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