AHEPA Chapter 408 of Wilmington, NC, Celebrates 50th Anniversary

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The Cape Fear Chapter 408 of AHEPA celebrated its golden anniversary this past November in Wilmington, NC, with a lecture on Greece’s legacy to the world by author Nicholas Gage at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, that drew a standing –room only crowd, and a dinner dance at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Hall attended by Gage, Wilmington’s Greek-American Mayor Bill Saffo, AHEPA District Governor Demetrious Govotsos of Maryland, and guests from Greek communities throughout North Carolina.

Gage is the renowned author of Eleni, A Place For Us, and Greek Fire - The Story of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis, as well as a number of other books. He has been an investigative reporter for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair, and was executive producer of The Godfather Part III.

Gage’s lecture followed the chapter’s presentation of 158 books dealing with Greek history, literature and culture to the William Madison Randall Library of the university. Jimmie Stasios, AHEPA District Marshall and Program Chairman, introduced Dr. David P. Cordle, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Sarah Barbara Watstein, University Librarian, who accepted the gift on behalf of the institution. Also present and representing the University were Gerald R. Parnell, Coordinator of Special Collections and Archives, Associate Librarian; Kelli Matthews Queen, Special Events Coordinator, Donor Relations; and Beau J. Cummings, Director of Development, University Advancement. A list of these books may be obtained by contacting Gerald Parnell at parnellg@uncw.edu. Stasios also recognized Diamandis (Tommy) Cotses, Avgerinos (Dokie) Saffo and Nick Ponos as significant donors to the university.
Gage was introduced for his lecture by Homer Faidas, Program Moderator, who suggested jokingly that perhaps Gage could use his investigative powers to discover where all the money had gone in Greece. Gage spoke to a spellbound audience of over one hundred, among which members of the University community, the local Greek community, as well as guests from throughout North Carolina. He elaborated on the legacy of Ancient Greece bequeathed to Western Civilization through the four pillars of “eleftheria,” “arête,” “agape,” and “sophrosyne.” Comparison was made to the state of Greece today, and indeed to the contemporary world we live in. A lively question and answer period followed the lecture.

A number of local and North Carolina authors were also in attendance: John Bakos, of Charlotte: Greek Tragedy, Greek Closure; Takey Crist, of Jacksonville: The Cyprus Museum, and with Jan Ferguson: From Cyprus To Onslow County, North Carolina ; Foti Jean-Pierre Fotiu, of Durham: Constantinople: the Beautiful City and the Destruction of Its Greek, Armenian, and Jewish Ethnic Communities; Emmanuel Koklanaris, of Wilmington: A Brief History of the Icarian Greeks in Wilmington, North Carolina; Lazar “Larry” Odzak, of Durham: “Demetrios Is Now Jimmy” Greek Immigrants in the Southern United States, 1895-1965; Anthony Papalas, of Greenville: Ancient Icaria, and Rebels and Radicals: Icaria 1600-2000; George A. Saffo, of Wilmington: “Epilogue” to Ruark Remembered by Alan Ritchie.

A dinner dance was held at St. Nicholas Hall of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. Nick Lazaridis, Chapter President, served as Master of Ceremonies. Demetrios Govotsos, AHEPA Capital District 3 Governor, presented Certificates of Recognition to Nicholas Gage; Chapter President Nick Lazaridis; Chapter Secretary-Treasurer and District Marshall Jimmie Stasios; and Director of the St. Nicholas Greek School Alexandros Theodoropoulos. Father Matthew Carter offered the invocation.

Cape Fear Chapter 408 was established on December 14, 1961, at the initiative of the late George Margolis, then Supreme Vice-President of the Order of AHEPA, and the late Thomas P. Pappas of Charlotte, then District 3 Lieutenant Governor, both of whom attended the first meeting, which was organized by Nicholas Modinos. Nick Fokakis was elected the first chapter president.

The chapter has participated in the AHEPA Housing Program for low to middle income individuals by constructing a 50-unit apartment building, the only chapter to do so in its district, Capital District 3. For the last four years, it has outreached to the broader community by participating in the Stop Hunger Project, a North Carolina-based philanthropy which organizes volunteers who assemble meals for the poor and needy in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and other countries having widespread poverty and hunger. Since the year 2000, the chapter has donated over 300 books on Greek history, literature and culture, as well as the Greek Orthodox Church, to the William Madison Randall Library of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.


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