In Memory

Nicholas G. Gianourakos

Nicholas G. Gianourakos

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04/05/14 06:42 PM #1    

Walter R. Smith


Nick died on the morning of his 67th birthday beside a bucolic country road outside of Leesburg VA.

I met him in the 3rd grade at age 8, during the year when us "Crosby Kids" attended double sessions at the Hardy School after our school caught fire.  He was always the littlest kid in our grade growing up, but somehow surpassed me in girth by middle age.

He was exactly 10 days older than me to the day, and I never let the old f*rt forget it. 

By the time we entered AHS in 1960, we were inseparable, true brothers, and partners in crime. His family and friends accepted me (despite blond hair and blue eyes) as an honorary Greek, and I have proudly called myself the white sheep in the clan for well over 50 years. 

I have always regretted missing his wedding, but I was preoccupied in Vietnam that year. I was at the Bedford VA Hospital with Nick and his Mom (Pota) the afternoon his Dad (Mike) sighed his last breath in 1997. When I bought my mid-life crisis car (Miata) in 1998 after a 31 year marriage ended in divorce, Pota was my first date.  I loved squiring her to Greek picnics in the toy car with the top down, the Trio Bel Canto blaring on the stereo, and my "adopted Mom" wrapped in a scarf with her Grace Kelly dark glasses on. Nick was my Best Man when I married my second wife in 1999. I was the last person Pota hugged and spoke to the night before she passed away from a horrible cancer in 2008. I had the profound honor of being a pall bearer for both of Nick's parents, but never thought I would have to carry Nick out of the church so soon...

I understand he had another life in Leesburg for 33 years, preparing tax returns for everyone in town, and part of me is jealous that so many of his local friends had him to themselves while I lived in California, and later, returned to Arlington to help my folks. He was a warm, uncomplicated, selfless soul, who would do anything he could, and then some, for those he loved. (Just try to pick up the check from the son of a Greek restauranteur!)  He reveled in saying and doing silly sh*t to lighten up any occasion, and then ricocheted with his infectious, high-pitched laugh to set everyone at ease.

I loved the moosh more than my own brother or sister. We were joined at the hip. He knew me better than either of my wives or sons. We were always there for each other and now he's gone. Who do you talk to when the one who understood you best isn't there, and no longer calls or answers emails.  I'm devastated... Overnight, this planet became a much lonelier place for me.  When my birthday came the day before he was laid to rest with my "adopted" family in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, I became older than Nick for the first time in my life. I could have waited forever for those bragging rights...

Nick wasn't an active participant in activities at AHS.  His roots were in the working class Greek diaspora around Central Square in the 50's, in an area now gentrified as Cambridgeport.  He introduced me to his four best friends from the old hood in 1960, and the six of us -- Gianourakos, Sarantakis, Stavropoulos, Karon, Melahouris, and SMITHopoulos -- became lifelong friends.  We came of age together in the 60's, participated in each other's weddings, shared Godparent roles among our 14 progeny, watched our kids play together and later attended their weddings, and supported each other when our parents passed.  Without Nick, I would not have met any of my extended family and I would not be who I am today.

εγ? θα σ 'αγαπ? π?ντα ο αδελφ?ς σας

04/06/14 11:46 AM #2    

Patricia A. Ferriani (Falwell)

Wow! My heartfelt sympathies to you and Nicks family. You had a wonderful bond that only comes along once in a lifetime. Right now, your pain is too much, but in time, I hope all the happy times you shared with him will bring a smile to your face and warm your heart. So sorry for your loss. Pat Ferriani Falwell

04/06/14 12:22 PM #3    

Jane Ellis (Casler)


I didn't know you or Nick but wanted to say what a lovely tribute to your dear friend.

04/06/14 04:52 PM #4    

Robert W. Shepard

Dear Walter,

I must have known Nick since I, too, was a displaced kid at the Hardy School, but I suppose I was just too shy then to even be aware of him. I am staying in Arlington for a couple of weeks being a companion to my mom, who is 102. I just read your beautiful tribute to Nick aloud to her. We both agree that it was so touching that we had tears for a man we never knew. Please accept our heartfelt sympathy for your loss. May you meet Nick again when you dream and may your wonderful memories comfort you.  

Sincere sympathy,

Charlotte Sullivan Shepard aka Charley

04/06/14 10:56 PM #5    

Arthur M. Corbett

Dear Wally,

My deepest sympathies on the loss of your dear friend, Nick.  I remember you both well from elemenary school on.  You'll both be in my thoughts and prayers.

Art Corbett

04/07/14 10:14 AM #6    

Eugene Lucarelli

Hi Walter/Smitty

I did not encounter Nick post AHS until a phone call in 2009.   He had a lawyer in Acton who knew me.  She contacted me on his behalf about his familys house on Marathon Street in East Arlington. She did not realize Nick's AHS connection to me nor did I until he called.  He remembered me!  I think it was Mrs Sampson's class.  It was a free for all.  Wow what great(awful in retrospect) memories we shared.  I remember the call and the very nice classmate on the other end of the line.   Your "Greek' connection in East Arlington rang a bell as my friend was John Kapsalis.  We were both in DeMolay and became great friends.  His family had a restaurant in Central Square next to the Y.( The Bigelo?)  I wonder how much different his life would have been if he had married his East Arlington girl friend Ginger S. instead of the traditional match marriage from New York.


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