Article by Stephen E. Lipken
Edited by Cynthia E. Pena
Photo credit: Deborah Karson (www.deborahjkarson.com)
The Pelham community is truly blessed to have Richard and Sona Davidian, who have given so much of their time and determination to charitable causes. An Owner/Broker at McClellan Sotheby’s International Realty since 1989, Sona was Past President of Pelham Newcomers Club; President, Pelham Memorial High School PTA; Chair, Manor Club Evening Section; Pelham Art Center; past Pelham Education Foundation Board member; past Friends of Town of Pelham Public Library; past Board member, Pelham Revitalization; Pelham Junior League; Pelham Family Service and Nurses Network. In addition to giving of her time to so many causes, Sona is very proud of the fact that McClellan Sotheby's has been a strong financial supporter of most of the local Pelham organizations and charities under her 28 year ownership of the firm.
Richard and Sona have lived in Pelham for 37 years, raising three children, Alexis, who is getting married this July in Carmel Valley, California; Alyssa Berryman who lives in Mamaroneck with her husband Rob and their 18 month old son, Cooper, their first grandson, "a very welcome and joyful frequent sleepover member of our family," according to Sona and Deana, an attorney who lives in Manhattan. Some of their most memorable Pelham moments have been with their children participating in multiple sports, including hockey, traveling soccer, softball and basketball.
Recently receiving his real estate license, Richard joins his wife at McClellan Sotheby’s International Realty.
One of the most challenging memories the Davidians recall, was the fight to save Colonial School. “With a lot of hard work and knocking on doors, we successfully fought to keep the school open,” Richard stressed.
Richard and Sona mentioned that those who return to Pelham after leaving, are attracted by the 29-minute commute to Manhattan, excellent school system and fond childhood memories.
Sona humorously emphasized that her youngest daughter may have a difficult time to find a place to go on her honeymoon where she has not been since the Davidians are avid travelers, seeing Europe; [their] motherland Armenia; Caribbean; Middle East; Southeast Asia; South America and even a South African safari.
When asked if they had a particular pet peeve, Sona commented, “Neither one of us has any tolerance for sloppiness, disorganization and tardiness. Both of us are methodical in the things that we do.”
“Both my husband and I grew up with four parents that were extraordinarily involved in community and civic organizations. For instance, my mother was Commissioner of the Girl Scouts in New York City. They were hard working, busy people but they always made time in their lives to give back by taking on leadership roles in charitable, church and community organizations,” Sona concluded. “Both our parents were role models from the earliest days that we can remember, always doing something for different organizations that they identified with,” Richard added. “Both parents were very instrumental in teaching us about a strong work ethic, the importance of giving back.”
Discussing the, “Help a Child – Change a Life” program that he created, Richard stated, “Unfortunately, there is a student population who live with financially stressed families that do not have access to skilled building and learning tools. We help with their homework, after school instruction, tutoring, SAT preparatory assistance, Advanced Placement and costs associated with computers.
“We offered free computers and printers for children before Senator Jeffrey Klein came out with Chrome Books. This was the ‘Help a Child – Change a Life’ program...”, for which Richard received the Fenlon Award from the Pelham Board of Education. He remains in contact with the students as adults.
“Our community is getting younger, with more children and programs to help them become more successful,” Richard observed. “Pelham is a very caring community,” Sona added.
If something catastrophic were to happen, absolute strangers would show up on your doorstep…”
Born and raised in Manhattan, Sona holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College and Masters in Social Work from University of Pennsylvania, becoming a psychiatric social worker in the South Bronx. Asked what attracted her to real estate, Sona replied, “I had my first child and did not want to work full time. I wanted to do something local and had an affinity for real estate and thought that my social work skills would lend well,” noting her vocation was great training for working with people stressed with buying a house for the first time.
She went to work for C.S. McClellan Realty at the time, and with partners Carol Brown and Mary Grimm, purchased the company from McClellan who was retiring.
“When we got married, Richard and I lived in Manhattan for five years and decided to give suburbia a try,” Sona stated, noting that her mother had good friends in Pelham. “We got off the road at Boston Post Road and walked into the first real estate office we saw. This is the only house in which we have ever lived.”
Richard held senior level marketing positions at Colgate Palmolive and Bristol Meyers Squibb, subsequently becoming a Partner at Accenture and more recently, DXC Technologies. An active member of the Pelham community including the Pelham Civics Association, Richard was chair of the Good Neighbor Program for 12 years and a former board member of the Teacher Institute of Lower Westchester and a present board member of a local homeowner's association.