Nickolas Jekogian is one hundred and one years young. A witness to the expanding Greek-American community that started in Philadelphia, and over the years, headed west to the suburbs. He has served his country in WWII, was a founder of the Greek Boy Scout Troop 302 at St. Demetrios, and was a member of five Greek Orthodox parishes in the Delaware Valley, including Evangelismos (Philadelphia), St. George Cathedral (Philadelphia), St. Demetrios (Upper Darby), St. Luke (Broomall), and St. George (Media).
The Jekogian family immigrated to Philadelphia from Platanorrevma, a village located alongside the Pieria Mountains in the Greek region of Macedonia. Jekogian was born and raised in Center City Philadelphia, and took classes at the Greek-American school at St. George Greek Orthodox Church (now St. George Cathedral), as it was known then.
By the time he was twenty-one, he was serving his country in Europe during the Second World War. Upon his return, the Greek community and his family moved west into West Philadelphia. St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Evangelismos was established at 59th and Larchwood. There, he baptized his sons and then joined the building committee that moved and built St. Demetrios to its current location today, while Evangelismos moved to Elkins Park.
A dedicated member, he managed the Greek cemetery plots through St. Demetrios at Fernwood Cemetery where many of the early Greek community has come to rest. He is also a Charter member and founder of the VFW Eleftheria Post 6633, the only Greek-American veterans post in America.
In his 100 years, he has seen the world go from the hand-crank wall telephone to the cell phone, the horse and buggy to the most sophisticated modern automobiles, and people flying kites to space travel, and he has seen the Greek-American community grow from a few blocks in Philadelphia to sprawling all over the Delaware Valley. He has undoubtedly navigated a path of our future.
Originally published on Cosmos Philly by Eleftherios Kostans. Video by Vasilis Keisoglou.