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Efrain "Chico" Chacurian

February 22, 1924 February 15, 2019
Efrain "Chico" Chacurian
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Obituary for Efrain "Chico" Chacurian
Efrain "Chico" Chacurian

A vibrant and magnificent life has come to an end. Efrain "Chico" Chacurian passed peacefully into his next incarnation on Friday, February 15, exactly one week before his 95th birthday. He often said he had "done everything I've wanted to do in this life" - and no one could disagree with that! Born in Córdoba, Argentina to Armenian immigrant parents, Chico embarked on a remarkable journey through this life, which revolved around soccer and family. Signed to a professional soccer contract with the Racing Soccer Club (Argentine First Division) at age 15, soccer was Mr. Chacurian's first and lifelong passion - not just something he loved, but at the core of who he was. Over the course of his soccer career, he earned four caps, and, after moving to New York in 1953, named to the U.S. national team in 1953 and 1954. In his final game for the national team, he scored a goal in their 3–2 win vs Haiti, and until his death was the oldest living goal scorer in US World Cup history. As a player for the semi-pro New York Armenians, he was named league MVP as his team took the league title. He also played for the Hispano of the American Soccer League, New York Swiss of the German American Soccer League (GASL) for eight seasons, the Bridgeport Italians, and several All Star teams, traveling and touring the world. After a long and incredible career, Chacurian retired as a player at the age of 53, then entered the coaching ranks as an assistant at Southern Connecticut State University, and coached there for ten years. In 1972, as a first year freshman coach at Yale University, Chico guided his team to an undefeated season (10–0), posting seven consecutive shutouts and even beating the Yale varsity team - a team and a time of which he remained immensely proud. Chacurian eventually worked with both the men's and women's Yale soccer programs before becoming head coach at University of Bridgeport after serving as an assistant coach for six years. He also won five league titles as the coach of Bridgeport Vasco da Gama between 1974 and 1980. He was one of the founders and owners of the Victory Soccer Schools, and spent his summers coaching and running those programs, as well as in the development of youth soccer in the US in particular, as regional head coach for U.S. Soccer’s Olympic Development Program, scouting and evaluating players year-round. Chico continued to be involved in soccer well into his 80s. Chacurian was deservedly inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992 and in subsequent years was also inducted into six other sports and Soccer Halls of Fame, honoring both his coaching and playing. One of the most meaningful honors is "my field" - the soccer field named after him at Short Beach Park in the Lordship section of Stratford, of which he was exceedingly proud. In his personal life, after moving to New York, he met and married the love of his life, Florence, buying their much loved home in Stratford CT. in 1958 where they raised their three daughters, Janet, Louise, and Nancy. In addition to his soccer career, Chacurian learned a trade in the US, first as a watchmaker and ultimately a lithographer and worked as the latter concurrently with soccer. He spoke fluent Spanish, Armenian, Turkish, and English, loved music of all kinds. When initially diagnosed, he said "I'll live until I die". And live he did - and we are all grateful and better for it! Chico is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Florence, three beloved daughters, Janet Padgett (Kurt) of Stratford, Louise Iwanski of Milford and Nancy Vivieros (John) of Las Vegas, NV, one grandson, Brandon Hall of Norwalk, three granddaughters, Amanda Iwanski of Naugatuck, Rachel Makowski of Naugatuck and Alyssa Iwanski of Boston as well as a great-grandson, Declan Makowski, and another on the way. He is pre-deceased by his parents, two sisters, and four brothers. A private memorial honoring the life of Efrain "Chico" Chacurian will be planned.
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