Harry Tarzian, longtime proprietor of the 92-year-old family-run Tarzian Hardware, passed away peacefully at his home on Saturday, March 16. He was 83 years old.
Harry was born in Park Slope on July 3, 1929. He graduated from Manhattan College in 1951 and went on to serve in the Army Signal Intelligence Branch during the Korean War from 1951 to 1954. He took over the family business– now a Park Slope institution– when he returned in 1954, and continued to run it for thirty years.
Harry turned the store over to a manager in the mid-1980s to pursue his loves of sailing and photography. He and his family lived on their 45-foot sailboat Aeolus through the late 80s, traveling around the Caribbean and Europe. They settled into Annapolis, Maryland until 2000, when they returned to Park Slope. Today, the store is run by Harry’s stepson John Ciferni, who told us a bit about the place’s history back in August.
His life-long passion for photography garnered Harry much acclaim, and his work is archived in both the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the collection of the New York Historical Society. He was certainly prolific; you can spend hours marveling at his multiple galleries, many New York-based, here.
Harry was a human history capsule. Back in 2008, he offered a glimpse into that history when he took part in the Park Slope Civic Council‘s oral history project. He sat with students from Park Slope’s Secondary School for Research, and shared his experiences growing up in an evolving neighborhood, as well as his take on the changes he observed when returning years later. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle compiled excerpts, and it’s a fascinating read:
Everything is so immediate when you’re a kid. You guys know what it’s like. I was in the same place. In retrospect, it was a wonderful experience. Also it’s very unique having grown up here and now being here again. [...] But I would say I had all the anxieties of being a teenager and I didn’t think of it as a place that was special, because it didn’t become special overnight.
Our thoughts are with his wife Paula, as well as his children and grandchildren. He will certainly be missed.
A celebration of Harry’s life is being planned for July; information will be available at his website, HarryTarzian.com. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be made in Harry’s name to Homes of Hope India or the Maryland Federation of Art.
Photos courtesy of Tarzian family.