Robert M. Morgenthau, Esq.
Peter Kougasian, Esq. Former AMAA Vice President and Robert M. Morgenthau, Esq. at AMAA’s 91st Annual Meeting Banquet at Hackensack Golf Club in Oradell, NJ
he Armenian Missionary Association of America is saddened to learn of the recent passing of Robert M. Morgenthau, Esq., United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for nine years and Manhattan District Attorney for 35 years, and longtime friend and boss of AMAA Board Member and Vice President Peter Kougasian, Esq. Mr. Morgenthau, part of a prominent New York political family for many generations, passed away on July 21, 2019 in New York City, a few days away from his 100th Birthday.
“In the 40 years of our acquaintance, I got to know Mr. Morgenthau very well, and I can assure you that he was a very, very great man, was passionately devoted to the Armenian people and spoke at many Genocide commemorations over the years,” said Mr. Kougasian. Mr. Kougasian, who served as an Assistant District Attorney under Mr. Morgenthau, was instrumental in securing Mr. Morgenthau as the guest speaker for the 91st AMAA Annual Meeting Banquet, held October 17, 2010 at the Hackensack Golf Club in Oradell, NJ.
Mr. Morgenthau was the grandson of Henry Morgenthau Sr., a lawyer and businessman, who became President Woodrow Wilson’s Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913-16. He came to be identified as the most prominent American to speak out about the Armenian Genocide and his book “Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story” remains one of the most historical documents about the Genocide and is still frequently cited by Genocide scholars. Henry and several other Americans formed a public fundraising committee to assist Armenians called the Committee on Armenian Atrocities (later renamed Near East Relief) which raised over $100 million in aid. Through his friendship with the publisher of The New York Times, he ensured that the Genocide received prominent coverage in the paper; The Times published 145 articles about the Genocide in 1915 alone. Countless Armenian families recall how their “Uncle Henry” personally intervened to provide for their ancestor’s safe settlement in America. Henry’s image appeared in a 2015 Armenian postage stamp series called “Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.”
Mr. Morgenthau’s father, Henry Jr., served as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary for much of the Depression and World War II. His biggest success was the Social Security Program; he reversed proposals to fund it from general revenue and insisted that it be funded by new taxes on employees.
Mr. Morgenthau served as a mentor to generations of public servants in politics and law. Under his leadership many notable Assistant District Attorneys served under him including the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor, Governor Andrew Cuomo, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Cyrus Vance, Jr.
Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO, and his wife Sona were honored to meet Mr. Morgenthau at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, which he founded and later became Chairman. “We celebrate the long life of Mr. Morgenthau,” said Mr. Khanjian. “While we are sad to lose such a great man, the bright side is that our Creator gains his company.”