July 11, 1987 – February 29, 2020
Nicholas Alahverdian’s battle for life ended on February 29, 2020. The children and families in the care of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) for whom he inspired and led through turbulent government transgressions have lost a warrior that fought on the front lines for two decades.
Mr. Alahverdian died two months after going public with his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was in his 32nd year.
At the bedside were Mrs. Alahverdian, their two children, and extended family.
Mr. Alahverdian was a devout Catholic. In keeping with Mr. Alahverdian’s wishes, his earthly remains were cremated with his ashes scattered at sea.
Statesmen in the House of Representatives and Senate joined with Mayors across Rhode Island in homage to a man whom they acknowledged as “one of the most vocal, outspoken and constructive advocates for reforming DCYF and the child care system”.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza remembered Mr. Alahverdian as “a beloved community leader whose selflessness and lifelong contributions to the residents of the State of Rhode Island have earned him the unwavering admiration and respect of many.”
Rhode Island politics, which are often fraught with tension, were put aside when Speaker Representative Nicholas A. Mattiello remembered Alahverdian from the House Rostrum following the introduction of a Resolution in his honor, unanimously supported by the entire House of Representatives. Earlier in the month, the House adjourned with a moment of silence in memory of Mr. Alahverdian.
Mr. Alahverdian was a painter, author, ornithologist, political scientist, sociologist, accomplished orator, and child welfare advocate.
He spent 20 years in the Rhode Island House of Representatives and the Rhode Island Senate, where he not only served as a state employee at the age of 14, but also provided lawmakers with insight into the abusive DCYF practices. Alahverdian left his employment to became the youngest lobbyist in history as he fought for DCYF reform. He was then exiled to Nebraska and Florida where he was silenced until his 18th birthday.
Surviving what Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr called a Dickensian existence in Rhode Island and enduring war-like torture in Nebraska and Florida was a triumph of sheer will. Alahverdian continued his crusade against DCYF abuses until his death, and with merely two weeks prior to his untimely passing, a bill creating a DCYF oversight commission was introduced in his honor by Rep. Ray Hull.
He again did the unthinkable and was admitted to and became an alum of Harvard University, the most peaceful and intellectually invigorating four years of his life aside from the past four years with his young loving family including his beloved wife and cherished children.
Mr. Alahverdian leaves many friends ranging from the world of politics to music to business and beyond. The family thank with utmost gratitude Dr. Jeffrey Hunt, Bob Kerr, the Hon. Ray Hull, Hon. Bob DaSilva, East Providence Mayor, Hon. Joanne Giannini, Hon. John J. Lombardi, Hon. Jeffrey Pine, the professors Dr. John Hamilton, Dr. Theo Theoharis, Dr. Thomas Underwood, all of Harvard University; Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame artist Rudy Cheeks, friends Saling Simon, Leah Cooke, Leslie Twining, and countless others who filled the last third of his life with love, joy, excitement, and wonder.
Besides his immediate family, Mr. Alahverdian’s survivors include his uncles Michael and Edward Alahverdian, his cousins, and numerous siblings, half-siblings, nephews, and nieces.