Nick Elefther, of West Yarmouth, passed away on December 6, 2021. He was 74 years old.
Below please find words of remembrance from his family and pastor, shared at his graveside Funeral Service at the Gardens Cemetery on December 11, 2021.
My father was born on April 11, 1947 at the American Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. Nick was the first generation and last American-born son of the late George and Sophia Elefther, two Greek immigrants who came from Katerini, Greece to escape post-war famine. The family settled in New York through Ellis Island with their five children in tow, Despina, Eleftherios, Anna, Gus, and Harry in search of a better life in America. After losing Papou George to cancer at the tender age of two, Dad’s family moved to Astoria, New York. He grew up as the “American” baby of the family, and as such, he was given much attention from his mother and siblings including a more lenient upbringing than a typical Greek family in the 1950’s. The standing family joke, was that dad was the tallest and strongest in the family because he was privileged to drink the good American milk.
In 1965, along with his brother Harry, he enlisted in the Military. Dad was an Army Specialist and served as a Medic on helicopter transports stationed in Germany. Dad spoke fondly of his army days which granted him the ability to travel around Europe and be present for his brother, Gussie’s wedding in Greece. When he returned from service, he gave his life to the Lord at a Billy Graham Crusade which was a significant turning point in his life.
In 1971, at his Mother’s constant urging to find and marry a nice Christian Greek girl from Boston, Nick met the only love of his life, Zoe Tsaniklides. Shortly thereafter, they were married and settled in West Roxbury. Nick and Zoe enjoyed 50 amazing years of marriage and raised three daughters, Sophia, Vasso, and Elizabeth. In a household full of woman, Dad would joke that he needed one guy on his side, he got his wish with his two fabulous son-in-laws, Brian and Nico. He always looked to them for an SOS in times when he was overruled. Dad was a loving and generous Papou to his two grandchildren, Zoe and Nora. They spent summers with him down the Cape and he brought them to Disney World when he and Mom spent the winters in Florida.
After he married, Dad worked three jobs and went to night school to get his Associates Degree in Business from Northeastern University. He worked very hard to provide for his family, ultimately sending all three of his girls to college.
Family was most important – Yiayia Sophia (dad’s mom) was sad when he moved to Boston, so dad was always planning our holidays and vacations to coincide with our relatives so the entire Elefther family was together on the Cape for two weeks every summer. During his life, He enjoyed many hobbies, which included, fishing, traveling, watching the history channel and reading Christian documentaries. He especially liked to do genealogical research, to the great dismay of us in our teenage years who found his constant sharing of obscure facts about Jonas King embarrassing. His favorite pastime was walking to his local deli for a good Italian sandwich, a cream soda, and indulging on his ever so decadent ring dings which were never shared.
Most importantly, Dad loved the Lord. In 1972, as a young Christian, he joined the tight knit community of Greek Evangelicals. He dedicated a lot of his time to the Greek Evangelical Church, serving as a boy-scout leader, organizing family camps, leading the youth group, teaching Sunday School, serving as a Deacon and then Elder, and committing to the growth of the English Service. As well he also served many years in the local chapter of the Gideons International which supplies bibles to area hotels, colleges, high schools, prisons and to the military recruits shipping off for basic training.
Over the years, my parents continuously and warmly opened their home, hosted and provided hospitality and fellowship to many pastors, Gideons, missionaries, church goers, and visitors. He loved to share his knowledge of Boston and its rich history. Dad loved hosting his family from out of town most of all. As the youngest, he was the fun uncle who took us and our cousins to outings - ice cream, minigolf, trampolines, movies, horse-back riding, canoeing, Christmas at Rockefeller Center, Macy’s Day Parades, fireworks, and all sorts of adventures, laughs and funny stories. He was fun to be around, made everyone laugh-especially when he spoke Pontiaka and broken German.
The last years of dad’s life have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Through his battle with this illness, my mom has been a constant companion, a selfless caregiver and a source of resilient strength to my father and all of us. The Alzheimer’s steady and relentless decline took away his memory and his autonomy but it did not take away his heart which was always full of steadfast love for his family. He also never lost his sense of humor. Dad would always make us laugh even in the toughest days. It has been a difficult struggle to witness but we always felt God’s providence and care for Dad even in the smallest details. Dad life could be summed up as a man who was always surrounded by the love of his family-our uncles, aunts, cousins, friends and especially the kindness from the many nurses, aides, and doctors.
Thank you for honoring my Dad by being here with us today as we mourn his death but also celebrate his extraordinary life. We rejoice that he is now at peace and home with his Father in heaven.
In 1972, Nick’s pastor, the late Argos Zodhiates, asked him to find a permanent church building for the Greek Evangelical community. Nick was dedicated to this task and began searching the area churches. This is an excerpt from the Former Pastor of the First Church of Newton, Rev. Newell H. Curtis, Jr. who served as pastor from 1967-1972:
Buying a church! It does sound strange. But selling a church would sound even worse. The latter I had never thought as possible until the idea was actually sold to me by Rev. Frank M. Weiskel, fifteenth minister of the First Church in Newton, Massachusetts.
This is how he described the occasion when asked to bring a word of greeting at the dedication service of the church under its new occupants – the Greek Evangelical Church of Boston:
One Sunday a very handsome dark man came to the church which I now serve and worshipped with us. When the service was over, he talked very frankly with me and wondered if I would show him the church. I was very glad, and he asked me if I wanted to sell it. I said to him that I did not own the church, I only worked there. But I told him that I knew another minister that was trying to sell a church and I gave him the name of Newel Curtis and his telephone number, and, lo and behold, how it has come to pass! Blessings on you! Surely the Lord has done a great thing.
The very handsome dark young man who so impressed the kindly former minister of First Church was Nick Elefther.
The fact of the matter is that the First Church was never actually sold to the mere handful of the Greek Evangelicals who now possess its premises. You don’t buy a property worth well over a million for a mere $160,000! No! The Greeks did not buy First Church. It was given them.
This was the last of the six buildings which had been erected by members of the First Church in its long 350 year history. First Church was a missionary-minded people who saw to it that others also heard the Good News of the Gospel. The four missionaries, Pliny Fisk, Levi Parsons, Jonas King and Elnathan Gridley set out from Boston for Asia Minor. The First Church saw these Greeks seeking to buy their sanctuary as the fruit of the labours of those missionaries who had formerly gone out from their midst. In God’s mysterious Providence the converts find themselves, some 150 years later, in Boston, and actually purchase one of the churches so active in former years in this missionary movement.
Nick was the dear and devoted husband of 50 years to Zoe (Tsaniklides). Loving father of Sophia Elefther , Vasso Mathes and her husband Brian and Elizabeth Eleni Sonnenberg and her husband Nico. Cherished grandfather, “Pappou,” of Zoe and Nora Mathes. Dear brother of Eleftherios Elefther and his wife Geany, the late Despina and Peter Markopoulos, the late Gus Elefther and his wife Catina, Anna Stefanidis and her late husband Harry, Harry Elefther and his wife Lee. Brother-in-law of Demetrios Tsaniklides and his wife Angela, Anna Peides and her husband Costa. Nick is also survived by many much-loved nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Nick’s memory may be made to Gideons International, Boston West Camp, 58 Hillside Rd, Dedham, MA 02026 (gideons.org), or to Christ Chapel Church 1200 Old Stage Rd. Centerville, MA 02632.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Nick Elefther, please visit our floral store.
Gideons International, Boston West Camp
58 Hillside Road, Dedham MA 02026
Christ Chapel Church
1200 Old Stage Road, Centerville MA 02632