Prominent Businessman

Henry D. Sahakian

Henry Sahakian loved State College and devoted his life to bettering the region through business pursuits and investment in local charities. Sahakian ’61 Eng made an indelible mark on the Centre Region during his six-decade career, which included developing many commercial buildings and pioneering the idea of off-campus student housing. “While most businesspeople in our area stick to the one thing they know, [Sahakian] created and ran 32 companies in various industries,” says daughter Heddy Kervandjian. “He brought the first computerized accounting system to the area in the 1970s. He got his pilot’s license and started an airline.” He also founded Uni-Mart, the first publicly traded company in the region, which at its peak had more than 500 locations. “He loved the challenge of getting a venture off the ground,” she says.

Sahakian had a huge heart and a wonderful sense of humor, and he valued honesty and a handshake agreement, says Seda, his wife of 62 years. He never sought recognition or accolades. His love of Penn State and State College was evident through his generosity; he helped raise and gave millions to the university and charities in the Centre Region through his businesses and private donations. He served on the boards of numerous nonprofits and was a dedicated supporter of the arts. Says his son, Fred: “Nothing made my father more proud than helping others in pursuit of their American dream.”

Sahakian, 84, died Feb. 23, 2021. Besides Seda, Fred ’89 Bus, and Heddy, he is survived by daughter Lara ’93 Bus, a son-in-law, Ara Kervandjian, and three grandchildren. —Sarah Rafacz ’15 Com, ’15 Lib