Honor Thy Benefactor: Theodore Spyropoulos

“No prophet is accepted in his hometown” (Luke 4:24) is a very well-known Biblical quote that also happens to be almost entirely true.

I say almost, because there are some exceptions to the rule which prove (test) their accuracy.

One such exception is the late Theodore Spyropoulos, a leader of the Hellenic Diaspora who died on September 25, 2014. His compatriots from Chicago erected a statue in his honor in Kalavryta, near where he was born.

It is a place that had benefited from his generosity. Theodore Spyropoulos was one of the Diaspora’s most important personages.

That is why The National Herald honored him posthumously, at the gala celebration of the 100th anniversary establishment of the newspaper. Theodore realized the American dream. He tasted great economic success.

He was certainly not the wealthiest Greek-American, perhaps not even among the most wealthy.
But he certainly was among the most thoughtful.

He had a keen analytical ability: to penetrate to the root of problems, draw the correct conclusions, no matter how bitter they might be or whom it might affect.

He understood, however, that material possessions are mostly a result of luck, and, of course, of hard work. And he recognized that material wealth is fleeting.

The enduring aspects of life are different ones. They pertain to a man’s identity: nationality, language, religion, traditions. And human decency.

It is on these qualities which he focused his attention, particularly language – the Greek community’ s oft-neglected child.

He traveled throughout our country, passionately advocating for the need to preserve the Greek language in America.

He expended time, money, and energy toward this goal – and his efforts did not go to waste.

But Theodore was hailed not only for his contributions to the community; but for being “the ever-present benefactor.” And he was, indeed.

However above all he was quintessentially Greek-American. As such, it is our community that should honor him. By naming a school after him – or erecting a statue as a tribute.

The Greek-American community should show its gratitude to its benefactors. Because that is the right thing to do.

But also because it would provide an inspiration for new benefactors to sprout. Not that we are devoid of them – but we need many more.

After all, we are financially dependent on our own recourses.