Sarkis Tatigian to be honored for 70 years of service in the Navy

Sarkis Tatigian, right. (Photo: WJLA)

Five days a week, 89-year-old Sarkis Tatigian rides a public bus, then takes Metro, and finally walks half-a-mile to his office at the Washington Navy Yard.

As the Associate Director of the Small Business Program, he says he stays quite busy—though he wishes he had more hours in the day.

“There are many things I would like to do here and time is the factor that prohibits that,” Tatigian said.

Wednesday, Tatigain will be honored for his 70-year career, which began in 1942, as a radio inspector at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Soon after, he joined the navy.

“In the Navy I was working in development of first guided missile that was used during World War II,” Tatigian said.

In 1946, he left the Navy—but stayed on as a civilian working on that missile—known as the "bat." Five years later, he made the jump to a brand new field-- the Small Business Program for the Navy.

Now, 60 years later, he's the most experienced member of the team.

“We've had a lot of women small business he has mentored for the program who started out with maybe two or four employees and now probably have 1,000 employees,” says Sarah Ford, a colleague.

“He has so much to give, I hope he never retires,” said colleague Cindy Shaver.

While he doesn’t have plans to retire yet, he admits his son and daughter and considering their own retirements.

“You dwell on that you feel a lot older than you really are,” he said.

But, he keeps working because “not only pride of the accomplishment but the personal sense of worthiness you get from the accomplishment,” Tatigian said.

“You were born with a brain—then use it,” he said.

He is a dedicated worker: when Tatigian had a heart attack and quadruple bypass last year, he had a co-worker bring his work to the hospital one week after surgery, and he was back in the office two months later.