Support our latest ongoing film project: In Support of Liberty; Philadelphia and the Greek War of Independence. Find out more.
The Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia

GAHSP
Home » Projects » The Interview Series » Nick Pappas, Life through the Arts

Nick Pappas, Life through the Arts

The Interview Series

A painted canvas of Mykonos, Greece sat idle half finished on an easel in his bedroom. The tragic loss of one of his son, forced Nick Pappas to put down his brush and push aside the canvas. He retreated into his work and his daily affairs for years. Flash forward 20 years. A friend visiting his condo noticed his home covered in paintings from years of work.

Pappas had been passionate painter all his life. Even as a young boy he loved the arts. The friend asked if he could show his work on youtube by photographing it. Pappas agreed. Phone calls poured in shortly after from friends and associates, begging him to return to his passion. So he did. “I just wanted to finish the last piece, but they kept calling”, said Pappas. Today, years later, Pappas has found his love of painting. He records poems and logs a journal with the moments of his life. “When I pass, I want to leave a record of my life. I want share my vision and journey with my grandchildren and the generations to come.”

Born in Patra, Greece in 1928, he served in the Greek Royal Navy during the Greek Civil War. With family on both sides of the Atlantic, he longed to find his brother he had not seen in some 20 years. When the opportunity to travel to the US as a merchant marine made itself available, he did as many Greeks did, he jumped ship and swam to shore. He entered outside Baltimore and settled in North Carolina where he worked as a dishwasher. Upon getting word of his brothers location, he traveled to New Jersey and was reunited with him. After getting married and starting his own family, he picked up and moved to south jersey to be closer to family and where he continues to live today.

As a founding member of the St. Thomas Greek Orthodox church, he settled and ran own business with his brother in law, Spiros Mantzas. Kozy-Korner as it was called, sat on the intersection of Front and Penn street in Camden New Jersey. It was in the heart of the South Jersey community and ground zero for a young entrepreneur in the food business. Like many Greeks he worked hard, putting in long hours for years. When the opportunity made itself available, Pappas stepped up.

In the early 1960’s he took the old Del Rango Dinner in South Jersey and reopened it as the Dynasty Restaurant. He worked there till 1997, when he sold it and retired from the food business. He had married, raised three children and made regular visits back to his home in Greece. A lifetime had passed in the food business, but his love of the arts was always present and would become his solace.

His love of family, Hellenism, and his journeys, both to Greece and in life are today recorded and shared in videos, paintings, and poems.

On any given Wednesday, you can find Pappas at St. Thomas Greek Orthodox church with his fellow Hellenes, the Kali Parea. A group of retired senior Greek men, they gather weekly for coffee, donuts and reflections on life from their own resident artist, Nick Pappas.