They don’t come more independent than Sarko Ekhsigian, a talented 86-year-old jeweler, artist and staple of the Tenafly community who was nearly killed when an SUV hit him last month.
It’s hard for many to imagine him not walking around town, exchanging smiles, or hopping the Sunday bus to Central Park, where he so loved to draw, sketch and paint.
Ekhsigian grew up in Jerusalem. He loved to paint but took up jewelry to support himself, creating designs that included medallions and amulets for Orthodox Greek patriarchs to wear on their robes.
Ekhsigian had to start over when he got to the U.S. He brought his work to Manhattan’s Diamond District, where storekeeps snatched it up. He settled in Tenafly.
“Everyone knows him there,” said daughter-in-law Nathalie Ekhsigian. “He loves his community.”
“He walked every single day to and from Tenafly Jewelers, where he helped the residents of Tenafly feel welcome as he repaired their jewelry, had a friendly conversation, etc."
"He is a wonderful man and has the most interesting stories about his life that he shares with his customers," one of them said. "And he does wonderful work."
"A very nice man. Always a smile," said another.
Sarko has been in the Intensive Care Unit at Hackensack University Medical Center since being struck more than three weeks ago by a Honda CRV driven by an 84-year-old motorist on near the Stop and Shop driveway on Riveredge Road.
“He suffered a fractured neck (C5/C6) and a broken femur,” Nathalie Ekhsigian said. “He underwent a femur operation and a neck operation to fuse his bones together. He has been intubated and fully supported by a ventilator.
“The doctors performed a tracheotomy,” she added. “He was on a feeding tube through his mouth, as well, and recently received a PEG tube into his stomach for an indefinite time to feed him since he cannot swallow due to his neck surgery.”
His family expects that Ekhsigian will be transferred to a rehabilitation facility soon.
They’re not as certain whether or not he’ll be able to "go back to his prior life, where he lived by himself,” his daughter-in-law said.
Both she, her husband and his sister don’t live near Ekhsigian. But they’ve been listing his artwork online the past two years and are now hoping now, more than ever, that it'll draw interest.
“He lived for his art,” Nathalie Ekhsigian said. “He has so many sketches and paintings yet to be named and tagged. That is a journey for sure.
“Any support he can get in this very difficult time from the community would be appreciated.”
GO TO: www.artmajeur.com/sarko
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