Nicholas (Nick) E. Bratsis, 83, of Drexel Hill, PA ─ a retired 34-year veteran of the Upper Darby Township Police Department ─ died on Wednesday, July 13 of lung cancer at Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center Hospice.
In 1970, Upper Darby’s mayor gave Mr. Bratsis a citation for “bravery beyond the call of duty” after he broke up a robbery at Gimbels Department Store on 69th Street. Mr. Bratsis had just finished his first day of part-time work as a store detective when a cashier ran to him saying she had been held up. He caught up to the pair of female robbers just as they were fleeing from the store with $400. He shouted for them to halt and grabbed one. The other fired a .22-caliber bullet into his chest, less than an inch from his heart. The robber he was clutching slashed his face and throat with a steak knife, just missing his jugular vein. While holding onto the woman with the knife, he fired three shots at the other woman. One shot missed, two shots hit her in the buttocks. Both robbers were arrested by Upper Darby police who arrived at the store.
Mr. Bratsis was born on Jan. 26, 1933 in South Philadelphia to Anna and Emmanuel Bratsis, both immigrants from the tiny Greek island of Ikaria, in the Aegean Sea. Until age 5, he spoke only Greek.
Mr. Bratsis graduated from John Bartram High School in West Philadelphia, where he played basketball and his teammates nicknamed him “The Golden Greek.” He was an avid Philly sports fan throughout his life, and rarely missed an Eagles or Phillies game.
He earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice at Delaware County Community College while working as an Upper Darby police detective.
Mr. Bratsis worked at several jobs before joining the police department in 1961. As a teen, he washed dishes at the Reading Terminal Market and painted fences at the Sun Oil Company facility in Marcus Hook, Pa. After high school, he met his wife, Marie, while they worked in the claims department of Employers Liability Insurance Company in Philadelphia. He was also a Reading Railroad employee and briefly worked as an Upper Darby Township trash collector just before joining the police department. He retired in 1996 as a police lieutenant.
Mr. Bratsis was a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War. He was training in Anchorage, Alaska when the war ended.
Mr. Bratsis is survived by his children, Michael (and Jacqueline) of Wallingford, PA, Matthew (and Danielle) of San Diego, CA, and Andrea Coccodrilli (and Ryan) of Blue Bell, PA. He is preceded in death by his wife, Marie, in 2009. They had been married for 54 years. His sister, Estelle (Stella) Mackrides, died in 2012. Mr. Bratsis’ nine grandchildren are Alexander, Angelica, Maia, Arianna, Olivia, Morgan, Nicholas, Tucker and Anna.
A viewing will be held at 10 am, Tuesday, July 19, followed by a funeral service at 11 am at St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church, 35 N. Malin Road, Broomall, PA. Interment at Glenwood Memorial Gardens, Broomall. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Coatesville VA Medical Center or St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church.