NEW YORK – A tribute celebrating the life of businessman and philanthropist Nikos Mouyiaris, was held on March 1 at Terrace on the Park in Queens, amid a climate of emotion, gratitude, and optimism, in the presence of family, friends, colleagues, and collaborators of the late Greek Cypriot.
PSEKA President Philip Christopher called for the event to be a “celebration of the life of Nikos Mouyiaris” who passed away on January 5. Hundreds attended the moving tribute from the business and political spheres, as well as ordinary expatriates.
“Tonight is an emotional night because it is a celebration of Nikos Mouyiaris, a philanthropist, a man who fought for Greece and Cyprus. It is a pleasure for us all to be present here today,” Christopher told The National Herald.
The program included speeches, poems, and well-known songs performed by the Pancyprian Choir under the direction of Phyto Stratis. The Choir was just one of the many groups that benefitted from Mouyiaris’ support during his many years in the USA, where he started out from humble beginnings and managed to achieve so much, thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit that distinguished him.
The founder of Alma Bank, Efstathios Valiotis said, “The loss of Nikos was a loss for the Hellenes, for Cyprus and Greece. He was the best, without a second and third, a friend of mine for 35 years. His loss leaves a void that can never be filled.”
Among those present was the Consul General of Greece in New York, Konstantinos Koutras and Consul Lana Zochiou, Consul General of Cyprus in New York Alexis Phedonos-Vadet and his wife Melina, New York State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, and New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides and his son. Nikos Mouyiaris’ wife Carol was also present.
“Nikos Mouyiaris for us was a great benefactor, not only for the Hellenes Abroad but for all of New York. He left his mark. On the way, we all have been jealous. I hope that others like him will be able to continue what he started,” said the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations Executive Vice President Nicos Paphitis.
Among the speakers were the Ambassador of Greece to Washington Haris Lalacos and the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus to the UN Cornelius Corneliou, who read the messages from President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos and President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades respectively, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, Philip Christopher, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Federation of Cypriot American Organizations President Kyriakos Papastylianou, and Nikos Mouyiaris’ brother George.
All the speakers focused on one element, the example of the life of Nikos Mouyiaris and the legacy he leaves to the younger generations.
In his message, the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiadis focused on the “universal recognition” that the community has lost with the passing of Mouyiaris. “The late Nikos Mouyiaris rightly won the universal appreciation, recognition, and respect not only of our community but also of the great circle of the American community with which he was engaged,” he said.
Similar was the message of the President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who pointed out that “he faithfully served his vision with his attitude in life, beyond divisions and disagreements… The great and important things we achieved united. This is his contribution,” he concluded.
Sen. Robert Menendez said he “will remember Nikos Mouyiaris in many different ways,” and he also expressed his appreciation to Carol Mouyiaris and presented her with a U.S. flag that had been flown over the Capitol building.
“I remember Nikos in many different ways. I remember his incredible smile. I remember the man who walked side by side with foreign leaders and prime ministers, but he never lost his humility,” he said.
Athienou Mayor Kyriakos Kareklas, spoke about how the city’s will honor its native son Nikos Mouyiaris, including the creation of a medal which will bear his name to be given only in exceptional cases to honorable persons, as well as an amphitheater at the Primary School, and the renaming of the main road to the south in his memory.
State Senator Michael Gianaris focused on Mouyiaris’ influence in his life and his overall political career.
“It’s not just that Nikos, along with Philip Christopher, helped me in my political career. It is that he took me by the hand and helped me to be the man I am today. He encouraged me to represent my community at a time when there were no Greek-Americans elected in New York,” Sen. Gianaris said.
Many speakers were visibly moved as they spoke about Mouyiaris and recalled poignant moments shared with their late friend.
Coordinator of the evening was Kyrenia Opera General Director Constantinos Yiannoudes, with artistic contribution by Phyto Stratis with the Pancyprian Choir which performed three songs that resounded with the poetic spirit of Hellenism and were among Mouyiaris’ favorites, H Diki mou i Patrida (My Homeland), Ena to Helidoni (A Solitary Swallow), and Tis Dikeosinis Ilie Noite (Of Justice Intelligible Sun) which concluded the event.
Soprano Olga Xanthopoulou performed Amazing Grace and Ave Maria accompanied by Alexandra Jones on cello and David Holkeboer on piano. Poet Polys Kyriakou came from Cyprus to recite a moving poem. Andreas Hadzioannou recited a poem by Odysseas Elytis.
The invocation and the memorial service were presided over by Father Alexander Karloutsos and His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia.
A video presentation on the life of Nikos Mouyiaris highlighted his founding of Mana Products and his dedication to Hellenism and its causes. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a founding member of the Hellenic Caucus, was among those offering their thoughts on Mouyiaris in the video and though not scheduled to speak at the event, she took to the podium and noted that in honor of her late friend, she plans to introduce legislation calling for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
The final speaker was Philip Christopher who thanked all those in attendance and especially Carol Mouyiaris and the family for sharing Nikos with the community through the years. May his memory be eternal.