Martin Almas Chooljian, 90, of Princeton, New Jersey passed away Tuesday April 13th from complications related to the congestive heart failure he had battled for the past four years. Until his last few days he was able to remain at his residence in the care of his devoted caretaker, Brenda Stewart.
Martin was born April 18, 1930 in Haverhill, Massachusetts as the fourth and youngest child of Manoog and Almas Chooljian. His father owned a confectionery as well as residential rental properties. The Great Depression had a lasting effect on Martin as it battered the family's finances. He would later recall how the local bank worked with his parents to save their rental units. Early on Martin learned the importance of hard work and education to move ahead in the world and he spent several summers working for the Haverhill Parks Department before graduating from Haverhill High School as the class of 1948 valedictorian. Martin then attended Harvard University on a scholarship where he received both his B.S. degree as an economics major in 1952 and his M.B.A. in 1954. While at Harvard Business School he met his future wife Helen and they were married on April 16, 1955.
The couple spent their next few years in Dayton, Ohio where Martin was serving for two years as a Procurement Officer in the United States Air Force, HQ Air Material Command with the official rank of First Lieutenant. Their first child Anne was born here in August of 1956.
Martin next moved his young family to Palo Alto, California after accepting a job at Litton Industries where he served as Treasurer from 1958-1964. In August of 1959 a second daughter, Cynthia, was welcomed by the family.
In the summer of 1964 the family moved to Princeton where son Andrew was born in December of 1965. Martin and his best friend from childhood, Dana Hamel, started their own business, Penn Corporation, and felt that Princeton was the ideal location for a corporate office with its proximity to the two major cities of New York and Philadelphia. As President and Director of the company Martin presided over several years of growth as the original Penn Champ manufacturing facility in Butler, Pennsylvania was joined by Beach Products in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a paper products company that boasted the exclusive license for the Disney paper tableware line. Ritepoint, a pen and writing instruments company was the next company to enter the fold and finally Vitronic, an advertising specialties company located in the Ozarks of Missouri was the last company to be part of the Penn Corporation conglomerate.
In 1985 the partners received an offer for their company that they could not refuse but they remained together at the same office location and founded CH Capital Corporation. Martin as President invested for various family members. The company was closed in late 2019 and Martin was proud of the fact that he was the longest lease holder of any tenant at One Palmer Square in the heart of Princeton.
Martin had many interests outside of his businesses. He was an avid walker who covered between seven and ten miles daily until the last few years of his life. His favorite walking companion was Baron, his much loved and spoiled Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He enjoyed reading the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on a daily basis, travelling, cooking, flying his Beechcraft Baron as an instrument rated pilot, deep sea fishing, skiing in Vail, Colorado and Alta, Utah, and playing tennis. He thrived in the vast intellectual wealth of Princeton and Princeton was enhanced by his involvement in many of its local organizations. Martin and Helen were longtime members of the Nassau Club and Bedens Brook Club. They were also long standing members and contributors to All Saints Episcopal Church. In addition they were major supporters of Trinity Counseling and the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. The two organizations they had the strongest affiliations with were the McCarter Theatre and the Institute for Advanced Study. At McCarter Martin served as a Trustee and Treasurer from 1987-1994 and was named an Honorary Trustee in 1995. While serving he helped with the Phase II renovation of the Mathews Theatre. In 1992 Martin and Helen joined the Friends of the Institute for Advanced Study where they became enthusiastic supporters. Martin was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1997 and made significant contributions while serving on the Audit, Finance, Academic Affairs, Building, Development, and Public Affairs committees. After thirteen years in this role Martin was named as a Trustee Emeritus. In appreciation of his service and philanthropy he was named an honorary lifetime member of the Friends Executive committee in 2016.
Martin was preceded in death by his beloved wife Helen, his two sisters, Sally Walden and Vars Adamian, and his brother Robert Chooljian. He is survived by daughter Anne Chooljian and longtime companion Raul Najar; daughter Cynthia Jost and son-in-law Dan Jost, son Andrew Martin Chooljian and daughter-in-law Laurel Chooljian; Brenda Stewart, loving caretaker and companion to Martin and Helen for eighteen years; honorary grandchildren, Dr. Ingrid Stewart, Tyrone Taylor, Dr. Elizabeth Taylor, Dr. Rebecca Taylor,
Joshua Taylor, and finally his honorary great granddaughter, Stony Taylor.
Martin will always be remembered for his smile, kindness, great intellect, love of dogs, and his lifetime commitment to philanthropy. Most of all he will be remembered for his devotion to his family and especially to his wife Helen who he adored. He will be forever in the hearts of his family, numerous friends, and the Princeton community.
Private cremation was held and a memorial service celebrating Martin’s life will be held at All Saints Episcopal Church, 16 All Saints Road, Princeton, New Jersey on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 11:30 am to be followed by a reception at the Bedens Brook Club at 240 Rolling Hill Road, Skillman, New Jersey.