GR US

AHEPA New Rochelle Chapter, The Evzone, an Ahepan for the Ages

The National Herald

FILE- AHEPA New Rochelle fulfilled its pledge of $15,000 to the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors project and presented the check to Past Supreme Governor and National Projects Chairman George Karatzia and to Co-Chairman Bob Fourniadis at Holy Trinity Church. (Photo: Courtesy of AHEPA New Rochelle)

NEW ROCHELLE, NY – New Rochelle's Evzone Chapter will host the Empire State’s District Convention, on Saturday, June 27, online, due to the coronavirus. The Chapter released the following statement about its almost 60 year history:

New Rochelle's, “Evzone” has never simply been another lodge member. He is a lot more. From its grand opening on September 27, 1961, the New Rochelle Chapter# 405 was predestined to play a significant role in the development of Hellenistic causes, capturing the emotions, dreams and grandeur of their ancestors. Along with New Rochelle’s Holy Trinity Parish, AHEPA 405, became the epoch center of suburban Hellenism.

Its charter members represented a cross section of a new generation of 20th Century Ahepans with careers in the Professions, Industry, Education, Media, Real Estate, Sports, Shipping and in numerous local and entrepreneur businesses. They represented the best of the best, Greek-Americans with engaging personalities and a passion for Hellenism. Over the next 10-15 years the Chapter captured the imagination of more Greek-Americans and Phil-Hellenes in the Tri-State Region. By the mid-seventies, the Chapter’s membership began to climb. People began to notice, and more of them joined. These Evzone pioneers were visionary architects, designing a blueprint that would inspire the Chapter’s growth, expansion, and performance during the next 30-40 years.

One of the proudest chapter moments came on Friday, March 26, 1976, when two Evzone Ahepans, Steve Vali and Leonidas Damascus as Chairman and Co-Chairman, lead AHEPA’s Bicentennial celebration of the United States of America, the birth of our Nation and the 155th Anniversary of Greek Independence Day. The event has remained the gold standard of events in New York AHEPA ever since. More than 450 people attended this historic event at the Plaza Hotel, including the entire senior political establishment of the Empire State, including the Governor, Mayor, U.S. Senators and Representatives from Congress. The Greek-American Community was led by His Eminence Archbishop lakovos, judges, Past Supreme Presidents, and members of the Board of Trustees along with chapter delegations. Among the distinguished leaders of the Chapter for the first 28-30 years, was Jimmy Plevritis who, along with the Vali and Damascus families elevated the chapter. His name is prominently displayed on the original Chapter banner.

The next generation of Ahepans arrived in 1992, when Joseph C. Keane, a former Senior IBM Executive, an imaginative Phil-Hellene with a vision, was elected Chapter President. He remained in office for a record 27 years, longer than any other Chapter President. He inherited a chapter membership of approximately 60 Ahepans. By the time he stepped down as President in 2018, the Chapter’s membership exceeded 170, ranking New Rochelle among the top ten AHEPA Chapters Worldwide. The Keane years represented innovation, inspiration and strong leadership. Career Days, Hellenic Theatrical Evenings, Graduate Luncheons, Irish Holiday Celebrations, Basketball & Golf Tournaments, The Daskos Barbeques, and Christmas Community parties filled the chapter’s annual calendars. However, the chapter’s annual Legends Initiation & Dinner, bestowing the Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the chapter’s highest recognition, on an Ahepan, at the Westchester Country Club, introduced in 2002, became the Chapter’s signature event. Today, the event is recognized and supported nationally by the entire AHEPA Family. The Chapter’s Logo was amended in 2016, when Joe Keane's name was forever placed on the Chapter’s banner, joining Jimmy Plevritis as the two most influential Brothers during the first 57 years of its existence.

Yes, it’s been a remarkable journey for The Evzones. In between all of the above, many of the Evzones joined the AHEPA Pantheon of District and National Leadership. Among them was Thomas Dushas, a former Sons of Pericles, a lifetime Ahepan, who became a two-time District and a two-time Regional Supreme Governor. Joining him, was Costa Papademetriou, whose leadership brought numerous Basketball Tournaments to the Evzones. Joe Keane, in addition to providing strong, creative and popular Chapter Leadership was appointed National Director of Hellenism, and James Zafiros, was appointed by numerous Supreme Presidents to AHEPA’s National Membership Committee. Major John Daskos was recognized for developing the “Daskos Barbeque” an early summer gathering of Brothers, at his Hartsdale Ranch. All of these Brothers earned the Chapter’s Highest Honors, the Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Legend Honors. In addition, Brothers Zachary Marantis Esq., Captain John “Kelly” Panas, Nikita Drakotos, Dr. Nicholas Romas, Gabe Damascus, George Allen, Professor Gus Constantine, William Zegras, Father John Romas, Constantine Varlamos, and George Williams were also recognized with the Chapter’s Legend Award for their extraordinary fraternal and community performance. Certainly, not to be overlooked is the brotherly support of Fr. Peter Kyriakos and Fr. Nicholas Anctil, whose spiritual support during these years guided all of us to the heavens. The blueprint was now complete.

The third generation of Ahepans arrived in 2018. Harry Fotiadis was elected Chapter President, John Copulos, Vice President, Jon Kohilakis, Director of Communications, and Nicholas Kinas, Chief Financial Officer. These four very talented brothers where chosen to build on the blueprint and steer New Rochelle to even higher levels. As they go forward, they will undoubtedly be challenged, but they will have the benefit of a complete blue print their predecessors left behind to help them navigate through future uncharted waters. We, those of us that came before them, the collective architects of the blueprint, wish them a healthy, exciting, innovative, and prosperous journey and expect some day they too will earn Legend status. They will lead the Chapter’s 60th Anniversary celebration next year.

James B. Zafiros is an Evzone Chapter Life Member and Vice Chairman of New Rochelle 405.