LEWISTON — He’s everywhere.

Five mornings a week at the Trinity Jubilee Center. Saturdays leading singalongs at Schooner Estates. Active in three veterans groups and two churches, he’s also a notary public who trumpets his complimentary services — “that’s F-R-E-E” — to guarantee he’s in demand.

Jerry Der Boghosian turns 89 Tuesday.

“(Staying active) is the only thing that keeps the adrenaline going,” he said. “If I decided to be one of those couch guys, I wouldn’t last long.”

Der Boghosian grew up in Haverill, Mass., where he said he slid by in high school on his music. He played in the school band and paid his cousin a quarter to do his homework. After graduation, he joined several big band music groups, playing violin, stand-up bass and singing, and went to work at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

He joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 at age 20, serving aboard the USS Canberra. In 1946, in the 90-day break between the Navy and a return to work, Der Boghosian grabbed his instruments and squeezed in a bus tour.

“We were doing one-nighters going around the country from Boston to San Fransisco,” he said. “I bumped into Benny Goodman twice. I bumped into Louis Armstrong. I bumped into Guy Lombardo — he was a spoiled brat.”

After leaving the shipyard in 1966, Der Boghosian eventually landed at the American Federation of Musicians Local 364-409 in Lewiston as secretary, treasurer and business agent. The job gave him access to still more musicians.

“I met Liberace (at the Augusta Civic Center),” Der Boghosian said. “My wife says, ‘I don’t want my picture taken with him, he looks like a nut.'”

These days are much less star-studded. Der Boghosian stopped performing in 1985, though he still sometimes brings his violin to Schooner.

“It’s amazing the dedication that man has,” Mark Prevost, the senior facility’s resident services director, said. “He’s even sung to one person before.”

Der Boghosian, who now lives in Lisbon, is adjutant and treasurer of American Legion Post 22 in Lewiston, chaplain for VFW Post 9150 in Lewiston and historian for the Franco-American War Veterans Post 31 in Lewiston. He’s also founder of the USS Canberra Reunion Association and a member of the Armenian Cultural Association of Maine.

He called the notary work “a lot of the joy in my life.” In sometimes quick, often informal ceremonies, Der Boghosian figures he’s married 25 couples in the last year.

Know someone everyone knows? Let us know. Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at [email protected] or 689-2844.


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