Jacques H. Nalbantian, 101, a retired engineer and resident of Ridgewood for 53 years, beloved father of Edward and Charles Nalbantian , and beloved husband of the late Rose Nalbantian, passed away peacefully at home on September 19, 2018. He was born on 17 July 1917, the second son in an Armenian merchant family living in Smyrna in the then Ottoman Empire. In 1922, when Smyrna was occupied and burned by Turkish nationalists, targeting the Greek and Armenian Christian population of the city, young Jacques and his family escaped as refugees thanks to the intervention of French naval forces. The family settled in Tunis, in the then French colony of Tunisia, where Jacques attended French schools and eventually earned an undergraduate degree in engineering at the French poly technical college in Tunis.
Tragedy struck the family again in 1931 when Jacques' father died suddenly of a heart attack. This prompted a decision to emigrate to the United States and join his mother’s family which years earlier had settled on the East coast. After immigration visas were finally obtained in 1941, Jacques, together with his mother and two brothers travelled to Lisbon in December that year to fly to the United States on the Pan Am Clipper service. But, the attack on Pearl Harbor forced cancellation of their flight days before their departure and the family was stranded in Lisbon.
Eventually, in February 1942, the family found passage on a Quaker – chartered ship for fleeing Jewish refugees which was bound for South America, but calling in Newport News, Virginia. After a harrowing crossing during which Nazi U-boats stopped the ship twice, the family disembarked in Virginia and settled in Syracuse New York, near the home of extended family.
For the next ten years in Syracuse, Jacques' life was finally on firm ground. He began working as a young engineer at Remington Rand assisting with the re-design of the Colt 45 pistol for use by US Army combat troops in WWII. In April 1945, he joined the US Army and was honourably discharged the following year having earned the Good Conduct Medal. He then resumed his engineering career with the General Electric Company while also undertaking graduate studies in engineering at Syracuse University earning an Master’s Degree in 1953. But, most importantly while in Syracuse, Jacques met his beloved wife-to-be Rose Injejikian who was then a student at Wayne State University. They married in 1953 at the Syracuse University Chapel.
After moving to New York City the following year and then to Ridgewood, NJ in 1965, Jacques' professional life as an engineer continued first with the Dumont Corporation and then, for more than 25 years, with Fairchild Camera Space & Defence Systems.
At Fairchild, he was involved in the design and implementation of optic imaging technology for the Gemini and Apollo space missions including the imaging systems which photographed the Moon during the Apollo lunar landings. Later, he was the senior engineer for the optical guidance system used in the first generation of Tomahawk cruise missiles. Jacques retired as a full time engineer in 1992 but continued working on special projects for Fairchild into his late 70s.
Even with these professional accomplishments, the priority in Jacques' life was unquestionably his family and in its broadest meaning. He was a devoted and loving husband for 57 years to his wife, Rose, a special education teacher in the New York City public school, who pre-deceased him in 2010. They had two sons raised in Ridgewood – Edward, a corporate lawyer now based in London and Paris with his wife Valerie, and Charles, a management consultant, former Chairman of the Ridgewood Planning Board and long term resident of Ridgewood with his wife Dana. Jacques also took enormous pride in his three grand-children Theodore, Nicholas and Chloe. He enjoyed, more than anything, sharing time with his family at the family home on Shelter Island, NY.
Until the very end of his life, Jacques was unfailingly devoted to his entire family including his nieces and nephews. His wisdom, uniquely combining humanity, intellect and experience from a life spanning a century, provided constant support and guidance for all of his family and brought joy to all those who shared in his life.
in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St Nersess Armenian Seminary 486 Bedford Road Armonk, NY 10504