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Jim C.
Democrat CA 16

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  • Honoring the Life of Ernest Armen Bedrosian

    by Representative Jim Costa

    Posted on 2014-01-10

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    COSTA of california in the house of representatives Friday, January 10, 2014 Mr. COSTA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay to tribute to the life of Ernest Armen Bedrosian who passed away on January 1, 2014 at the age of 80. Ernie had a significant role in the raisin industry, and his advocacy on behalf of farmers throughout California will undoubtedly be missed.

    Ernie grew up in Parlier, California with his two brothers; Krikor and Kenneth, and his sister, Clara. His parents, Murad and Elizabeth, were first generation immigrants who survived the Armenian Genocide. Growing up in an immigrant family with strong parents, Ernie quickly developed great values and principles.

    In 1955, Ernie graduated from Fresno State College with a Bachelor's Degree in agriculture. Upon graduation, he joined the United States Army and became a food specialist. A year into his service, Ernie married the love of his life, Carlotta Ketchian. They raised two children; Bryan and Tammy.

    In 1958, Ernie completed his time with the Army and went back to work on his family farm. Ernie and his brothers began a grape harvesting business, and in his spare time, Ernie served on various raisin boards and met stakeholders who farmed throughout the Valley. In 1966, he formed the Raisin Bargaining Association (RBA). Ernie served as the first president of the RBA and guided the association through its early years. Today, the RBA is the most successful and largest raisin bargaining association in the country.

    While Ernie was establishing the RBA, he and his brothers were also expanding their farming operation. In 1967, they decided to go into the raisin packing business and opened National Raisin Company (NRC). The Bedrosian brothers and their partner Harry Rustigian developed the ``Champion'' brand. Ernie served as the president and was responsible for sales and daily operations. The NRC had a strong beginning and decades later, it still continues to prosper. It is the largest independent raisin, prune, and dried fruit operation in the world.

    It is obvious that Ernie was an extremely successful businessman, but he never took full responsibility for his accomplishments. He attributed his success to Carlotta and his sister in-laws; Katherine and Jane, who served as a support system to the Bedrosian brothers while they were forming their business. Ernie loved the raisin industry, but family always came first. He was a loving and devoted husband and a supportive father. He also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren; Corney, Tyler, Armen, and Lillian.

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great respect that I ask my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pay tribute to the life of Ernest Armen Bedrosian. His presence will be greatly missed, but his legacy will surely live on in the Central Valley.


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