Ararat Armenian Cemetery &
Masis Ararat Armenian Cemetery

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Avis Chilingerian

November 3, 1929 - September 15, 2016

Avis Chilingerian photo

Birthdate: November 3, 1929

Place of Birth: Fresno

Date of Death: September 15, 2016

Hometown: Fresno


Avis Chilingerian passed away on Thursday, September 15, 2016.  He was 
born on November 3, 1929 to parents, Mihran and Edwanda (Hopelian)
Chilingerian.  They named him Avedis meaning “good news”.   Avedis grew
up in his parents’  “mom and pop” grocery store , Bargain Grocery at 362
Van Ness, located in what was then called Armenian Town near downtown

Avedis attended Emerson Elementary School, where his kindergarten teacher
changed his name to Avis.  Avis graduated from Fresno High School where he
did more entertaining than studying.  He was President of his senior class,
Secretary of the Boy’s Federation, and manager of the football team.  In high
school, he became known as Chili.  He and his friend Moose Morell formed a
stage act named “Moose and Chili”.  They became very popular with the teens
of Fresno who went to “The Shack”, a gathering place for Fresno teenagers in
the late 40s.  Moose and Chili took their act on the road and became popular
with teens throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley.  In 1946 he had the thrill
of meeting Frank Sinatra.

Chili’s constant clowning almost got him kicked out of school.  He graduated in
1947 and attended City College.  He was drafted into the army in 1950.  While
stationed at Fort Ord, California, he was assigned to Special Services as Head of

While in the service, he got to meet and work with many of the top named enter-
tainers of the day.  He brought his troops to Fresno for performances at St. Paul
Armenian Church’s bazaars, Triple X Fraternity, and to promote blood drives. 
Upon leaving the service, he received a job offer as an agent in Hollywood, but was
unable to accept due to family responsibilities.  

In 1954, he married Diana Sarabian.  They had a daughter, Lisa in 1958 and a son,
Jonathan in 1962.  Chili and Diana worked side by side for 62 years in ranching, real
estate, fireworks, Bargain City, and Chili’s Warehouse.  They were joined by Lisa and
Jonathan when they became of age.

Throughout the years, Chili never stopped entertaining.  He put on numerous benefits
for his fraternity.  He had an annual Christmas party which grew to over 400 people. 
Whether it was a small gathering or weddings at the convention center for Lisa and
Jonathan, he always made sure his guests had a memorable and fun time.  He had 
many friends in entertainment and they would always be there for him.

Chili will best be remembered for his generosity and sense of humor.  

He was a member of Triple X Fraternity, Selma Chapter and Tigers Club of Sanger.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Audrey Avedian and her
husband Robert; his mother-in-law, Elissa Melkonian (they worked together
for 45 years); and father-in-law, Jacob Sarabian.

Chili is survived by his wife, Diana; daughter, Lisa and husband Kenny Melkonian;
son, Jonathan and wife Janet; grandsons, Andrew Melkonian and wife Megan,
and Gregory Melkonian; and granddaughters, Jenna, Jessica and Jillian Chilingerian.

The family would like to thank the California Armenian Home staff for their care and

A funeral service will be held at St. Paul Armenian Church, 3767 N. First Street,
Fresno, CA 93726 at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, September 24, 2016.  Internment will
follow at Masis Ararat Cemetery.

Remembrances may be sent to St. Paul Armenian Church or the California Armenian
Home, 6720 E. Kings Canyon Rd., Fresno, CA 93727.

Interment Information

Funeral Service Information

A funeral service will be held at St. Paul Armenian Church, 3767 N. First Street,
Fresno, CA 93726 at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, September 24, 2016.  Internment will
follow at Masis Ararat Cemetery.

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