On October 26, 2017, the Trustees of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Gennadius Library Board of Overseers, along with friends, gathered for the annual board dinner at The Colony Club. The event was hosted by April and Nassos Michas.
During the presentations that evening, guests were informed that the Makriyannis Wing project was only $500,000 away from its fundraising goal. There were two major giving opportunities left, and either would help the School achieve its target.
Shortly thereafter, John A. Georges surprised everyone by making a commitment of $500,000 to name the Georges Family Courtyard Terrace. The announcement energized the room, and everyone stood in applause. Thanks to Georges’s gift, the School is delighted to announce that the new Ioannis Makriyannis Wing of the Gennadius Library will be inaugurated on Saturday, June 2, 2018.
John A. Georges, Operating Partner of One Rock Capital Partners, LLC, has had a distinguished business career. He served as a Ripplewood Industrial Partner from 1999 to 2009; as President and Chief Operating Officer (1981-1984) and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer (1984-1996) of International Paper; and spent the first 28 years of his career with DuPont. Georges also served as a director of the New York Stock Exchange (1987-1993) and of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (1986-1992); Chairman of the National Council on Economic Education (1991-1992); President of the University of Illinois Foundation (1995-1997); and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Harvard University Center for Risk Analysis. Georges earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois and was named to the Engineering School’s Hall of Fame in 2016. He also holds an M.B.A. from Drexel University.
Chair of the Board Alex Zagoreos, School Director Jenifer Neils, John A. Georges, Gennadius Library Director Maria Georgopoulou,
President of the Board Rob Loomis, Chair of the Overseers of the Gennadius Library Andreas Zombanakis,
Trustee Nicholas Burns, and Executive Director George Orfanakos at the Board dinner on October 26
In making his most generous gift, John Georges has chosen to dedicate the space to three very special people in his life:
Zephera (Givas) “Lou” Georges, John's beloved wife of 62 years, and mother to their children, Andrew and Elizabeth. Lou was passionate about fly-fishing, and an avid and accomplished cook. A skilled artist and designer, she created both of the family’s homes in Vero Beach, Florida and Greenwich, Connecticut. Lou passed away on December 27, 2014 at the age of 84.
Nicholas Georgantas, John's uncle, and one of the greatest Greek athletes of all time in Greek Classical competition. A three-time Olympian and world record holder, Georgantas won a bronze medal in the discus throw at the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis; a gold medal (stone throw) and two silver medals (modern discus throw and Greek-style discus throw) at the 1906 Games in Athens; and became the first Greek flag bearer during the Opening Ceremonies at the 1908 Olympics in London. Over his 20-year career, he won 36 Greek titles (13 of which were national records) in events including discus throw, shot put, stone throw, Greek-style discus throw, pentathalon, javelin throw, one-hand weightlifting, and tug-of-war. Georgantas was a teacher by profession. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1921, but returned to Greece shortly before WW II. Georgantas served as Chairman of Panellinios G.S. (a multi-sport club founded in Athens in 1891) from 1955 to 1957 and was a member of the Greek Athletics Federation.
Dimitrios Georgantas, John's uncle and a Greek army general who was instrumental in the construction of the fortifications that held back Mussolini’s army from the Greek-Albanian border in 1940 during WW II—the first victory of an Allied army over the Axis, and one that changed the course of the war. Georgantas used his engineering background and experiences studying fortifications in France to meet the challenge of building a wall on a Greek mountain range amidst heavy artillery. Early in his career, Georgantas served as a young lieutenant fighting Bulgaria during WW I and in the Greco-Turkish War from 1920 to 1922. While directing Greek army engineers later on in 1941, he was captured when the Germans took Athens, and immediately joined the resistance upon his release. Seized again in 1943 when he and six fellow members of the underground were betrayed, he was again set free, and continued his work with the underground before going on to fight the communists in the Greek Civil War. When asked about his experiences, Georgantas would simply say: “Epraksa to kathikon mou.” (“I did my duty.”)
Lou Georges, Nicholas Georgantas and Dimitrios Georgantas
A plaque in the Georges Family Courtyard Terrace will bear the names and images of these three individuals. The School joins John A. Georges and his family in honoring their memories, and thanks him for his bold commitment. All anticipate this summer’s inauguration of the beautiful new Ioannis Makriyannis Wing and the Georges Family Courtyard Terrace with enthusiasm and pride.
The one major remaining naming opportunity for the Makriyannis Wing project is the Main Exhibition Gallery. This perpetuity naming is available for a $1,000,000 commitment. Please call the Development Office at 609-683-0800 for details.