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Haig Varadian, Rhode Island wrestling legend, passed away on June 21



Haig Varadian, 81, referred to by many as "the father of Rhode Island Wrestling", passed away on June 21.

Haig Varadian devoted more than 50 years to the sport. He founded the Rhode Island Interscholastic League's Wrestling program in the early 1950's and served on the RI Interscholastic League Principals' Committee on Athletics for over 20 years. He spent 40 years on the Council of the New England Secondary School Principals' Association and the last 25 years as its Executive Director administering every New England high school championships in all sports.

A graduate of Cranston High School in 1944, he was an All-State wrestler for two years, as well as a member of the school's track team. Soon after graduation, Varadian was inducted into the U.S. Army, serving as a Staff Sergeant in the famous 3rd Division Combat Infantry Unit during World War II. Varadian was a recipient of the Combat Infantryman's Medal with two battle stars, two Purple Hearts, and other awards for valor including the Bronze Star.

While at Brown University, graduating in 1950, Varadian was a member of its wrestling team. He coached the Cranston High School Wrestling team from 1950-61 winning many State titles. He was named "RI Wrestling Coach of the Year" five times and is proud to have produced a number of State and New England champions, many of whom became high school and college wrestling coaches. He also coached the Cranston High School Outdoor Track team for five years. The track at Park View Junior High School is named in his honor.

Based upon his skill as a wrestling official, Varadian was chosen as an alternate official for the 1960 Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan.

His professional career spanned 41 years in the Cranston School System as a secondary school Administrator at Cranston High Schools East and West, and as a Principal of Park View Junior High School until he retired in 1990.

In 1999, Varadian was inducted into the prestigious Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame which honors those "who have brought credit to Rhode Island, brought Rhode Island into prominence, and contributed to the history and heritage of the state."

He was also inducted into the Rhode Island Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1971, New England Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1991, Cranston Hall of Fame in 1991 and Cranston High School Hall of Fame in 2003.

Varadian was instrumental in the formation of USA Wrestling in his state during its early years. He was renowned for officiating. He was chosen as the "Man of the Year" by the New England Wrestling Coaches Association in 1988, and received numerous other wrestling awards.

Varadian received the Presidential Citation for outstanding service in the "International People to People Program" in 1957. He has received numerous other citations for his exemplary civic service.

As a former member and athlete of the national Armenian Youth Federation, he is credited with establishing their Board of Governors on Athletics. The organization honored him in 1969 at its annual Olympics with their Olympics "King" award. He is an honorary member of the local Providence AYF Chapter.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to:
Armenian Youth Federation Providence Chapter
or Sts Vartanantz Armenian Church Endowment Fund
both at 402 Broadway, Providence, RI 02909
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