The Greek-American fraternal organization AHEPA released a statement on the death of a former Supreme President Nick Smyrnis on Monday. Smyrnis, who was 98, served in the highest capacity in AHEPA from 1979 to 1981.
“AHEPA deeply mourns the passing of Past Supreme President, and co-founder of AHEPA National Housing Corporation (ANHC), Nick Smyrnis,” the statement, released by Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas, said.
“Brother Smyrnis, of Indianapolis, Indiana, was a 73-year Life Member of James Whitcomb Riley Chapter 232, Indianapolis. He passed away January 15, 2022, at the age of 98.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Brother Smyrnis’ passing,” Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas said. “A titan of the community for more than half a century, Brother Nick’s contributions were immense and valued greatly. He served the Order in key leadership positions with class and distinction.
“Brother Nick is known as the father of AHEPA’s National Housing program, a program that is considered AHEPA’s “crown jewel” and touches the lives of thousands of vulnerable seniors nationwide. A true Ahepan, he will be missed tremendously by the AHEPA family for his wisdom, vision, and leadership. Our deepest sympathies are with the Smyrnis family. May his memory be eternal.”
Brother Smyrnis served two terms as Supreme President (1979 to 1981). During his first term, President Jimmy Carter spoke at the 1980 AHEPA Congressional Banquet in Washington, DC. He also represented the United States at the Olympic Torch Ceremony in Athens, Greece, January 27-31, 1980, as part of a delegation appointed by President Carter to bring the Olympic torch to the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Smyrnis was one of the founders of AHEPA National Housing Corporation, which he helped establish in 1983 to provide affordable apartment communities for low-income seniors. He was also an original founder of the ANHC’s subsidiary, the AHEPA Affordable Housing Management Company (AMC), which was created in 1991 to provide property management services for affordable senior apartment communities.
He also served as the first President of the ANHC Board and as AMC President until 2008. Today, ANHC, through its subsidiaries, is a nationwide provider of 87 affordable apartment communities and four affordable assisted living communities in 19 states, serving 5,500 seniors.
“Brother Smyrnis served as a mentor to those of us involved in the AHEPA National Housing program,” ANHC President Carl Hollister, PSP, said. “He inspired the AHEPA family to provide more affordable, safe, and dignified housing to seniors through his passion, knowledge, and the outstanding example he set forth for us to follow. His passing leaves a void that will be impossible to fill. We will take what we learned from him, and we will honor his memory by continuing to grow our mission to serve more seniors in need. May his memory be eternal.”
Additional highlights during Smyrnis’ AHEPA service include introducing President Gerald R. Ford, who delivered remarks at the AHEPA Bicentennial Congressional Dinner in Washington, DC in 1976.
In 1991, Smyrnis served as the General Chairman of the “AHEPA Evening on Ellis Island,” a moving celebration of the Greek immigrant experience with more than 1,200 persons in attendance on Ellis Island. The event also celebrated AHEPA’s contributions to the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for which AHEPA raised $612,000, earning special recognition from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
In 2011, Smyrnis accompanied then-Supreme President Dr. John Grossomanides as part of a small leadership delegation to Ankara, Turkey.
In 2014, ANHC presented Smyrnis with its Lifetime Achievement Award. ANHC also sponsored a service dog for a veteran named, “Nick S.,” after Smyrnis and former Chairman Emeritus Nick Stratas, who passed away in 2018.
Smyrnis also received the AHEPA Lifetime Achievement Award and the AHEPA Medal for Military Service for his service in the U.S. Army.