Nikolaos Caravasos, fondly known also as Nick and Nikos, was both a proud Greek and a proud American.
Born on 28 February 1938 in the village of Zoupena, Greece, nestled between two small hills at the foot of Mt. Parnonas, in the heart of the Peloponnese near Sparta, he spent his childhood growing up there and also in the nearby village of Tsintzina. Nick lived through World War II and saw the Germans destroy his village and then also through the Civil War in Greece that followed which was perhaps even worse, and he authored a book in both Greek and English entitled “Recollections of Survival.” Ravaged by the effects of the war, his family came to America for a better life.
Nick’s family had to struggle to make a life for themselves in West Virginia where they had settled, so he worked from when he was a boy and learned the value of an honest living. Despite those difficulties, Nick wanted to pursue higher education and reached for the stars in life, and he was the first in his family to finish college. He graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of West Virginia and subsequently also earned a Masters in Management and Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to attend the graduation ceremony from his Ivy League alma mater because his daughter was also graduating from The Wharton School at the same time and told him that this was her moment and, like the most wonderful and unselfish Dad that he was, he stepped back and let her shine.
Nick worked for almost 40 years for The Boeing Company and held a managerial position designing commercial and military aircrafts. He was not called to serve in the Vietnam War because his work on the Chinooks at the time was deemed to be more valuable in rescuing our soldiers and the Vietnamese. Nick specialized in Composites and Survivability of aircrafts and, in 1998, he was honored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for his work on survivability improvements to designs. Following his retirement from Boeing, Nick continued his career as a consultant for the Department of Defense at the Pentagon.
Nick met the one and only love of his life, Maria Papaspiridakou when he was a boy in Greece and loved her ever since during the many, many decades together. Even after he came to America, they continued to keep in touch as she grew up in Greece and went to law school there. They ultimately married in Sparta, Greece in 1962, and she then joined him in the United States. Even though they lived the most wonderful life in the U.S. for 56 1/2 years together, they loved Greece just as much and continued to return every summer and sailed to dozens and dozens of islands through the years, finally settling on their beloved island of Chios that became like a second home. Nick and Maria also made it their life’s mission to make sure that their daughter felt that same love for Greece and was truly immersed in the culture and the language and the love just like a native-born, and they succeeded in that endeavor.
Nick had a tremendous love for life and could dance the Sirtaki with the best of them. He loved traveling throughout Europe, open sea swimming and sailing in the Aegean Sea, gardening, and baking his own bread. He was also the kind of person who always went out of his way to help everyone, even beyond his means, which in turn earned him the nickname of St. Nick from his daughter. Although Nick lived a very full and beautiful life, there is one thing that was important to him and that he was not able to experience before his departure to see the first female President be elected in the United States.
Nick has now journeyed to the eternal life to be reunited with his beloved mother and father, Eugenia and Anastasios Karavasos, as well as his beloved sister and brother, Christina Fetanis and Dean Carr. However, before making that journey, he battled his final disease with the same passion and ferocity and stubbornness as the ancient Spartans known as “the warriors.”
Nick is survived by his wife of more than five and a half decades of the happiest years of their lives, Maria Caravasos, as well as his brother, George Karras. Nick is also survived by his daughter, NiaLena Caravasos, who is a federal and white collar criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia, and of whom he was most proud and would always tell people about. His life and legacy and indelible spirit live on in them and in the countless people who loved him.
His funeral service will be 11 am Friday, January 25, 2019, at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Luke, 35 North Malin Road, Broomall, PA 19008. Viewing one hour prior to service in the church. Interment Glenwood Memorial Gardens, Broomall, PA.