Friends of Nicky Demetrious resurrect scholarship endowment at FMU
By Jana E. Pye, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicky Demetrious was larger than life; a handsome Greek with a constant smile, a friend to all he met.
Six years after his death, Nicky’s friends in the Pee Dee still speak of him fondly; they are happy to hear that the scholarship in his name at his alma mater is nearing the endowment funding goal.
Nicky Chris Demetrious was the son of the late Katina Papaioannou Demetrious and Christos “Gus” Nicholas Demetrious, joined by two sisters- Mary Demetrious of Darlington, and Paula Demetrious Lawson of Florence.
Nicky graduated from Francis Marion University in the early 1970’s after serving his country with the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He was an avid tennis player and cyclist, and the owner-operator of the Carolina Lunch/Dairy Bar in Darlington.
The scholarship was established by Charles Howard, Sr. president of Chase Oil Co. in Florence, and many of Nicky’s friends that wanted to establish this scholarship in his memory.
Unfortunately after Nicky’s death in January of 2009, the national economy was in turmoil; the endowment goal
of $25,000 was not met.
However, representatives from FMU say that the endowment is now merely $10,000 away from that goal.
The scholarships will be given to a member of the FMU men or women’s tennis team first preference that they are from the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.
The original family restaurant, Carolina Lunch, was started by Gus Demetrious in the late 1930’s the rear of a tobacco warehouse. It was legendary until the warehouse burned in the early 1990s. The family moved the operation to the vacant Dairy Bar, which Demetrious opened in 1958, but closed in the 1970s.
“Nicky was everybody’s friend,” said Howard. “He came back from the military and started working at the family restaurant, Carolina Lunch. People loved him. He was involved with people of all ages; he was a social person. Loved to go to parties, and loved to play tennis.”
Some of his mentors were Bill Harper, and principal Bill Cain. He played with Keith Williamson, Edwin Dargan, and Tim Dargan- always planning a match.
He kept in shape with his passion, tennis, and his other passion, cycling.
“What really impressed me about him was that he would ride his bicycle everywhere,” recalled Howard. “I’d see him way past Mechanicsville and way down riding his bicycle, staying in shape. He was dedicated to that.”
The ladies all loved him as much as his pals, yet none of them could talk the confirmed bachelor into marriage.
Finding a picture of him was elusive, he just didn’t really like having his photograph made.
“I just think he was one of the most well loved people in this community. Everybody aid he was great – it was just the way he was. His Daddy said one time to me, ‘Everybody loves my Nicky.’ I would watch him up there waiting on customers, and they’d come in and have a conversation with all of them. People wanted him included in so many things, because he just fit. You would have to have really known him to appreciate that. We all know people who are popular, but everybody liked him- I mean everyone! It was, and is, rare.”
Nicky died at the age of 60 with cancer; there is some speculation that he may have been exposed to Agent Orange during his time in Vietnam.
Before his illness, he joined many of his St. John’s High School friends on their annual beach weekend in April in Ocean Drive.
Many recall the funny pranks he and his long-time friend writer Dwight Dana pulled on one another through the years, that Dana recalled during his last tribute to his friend after his death.
“The story goes that Dwight knew Nicky always left his keys in his car, so one night he moved it when he was eating at Joe’s Grill,” said Howard. “And it took a long time for Nicky to find the car. He finally got him back, though,” laughed Howard. “He got someone to call and wake up Dwight after a long night of partying, calling him at 6 o’clock in the morning by saying, ‘Hurry, Pate Elementary School is on fire!’”
Howard laughed. “Knowing that Dwight would be fast asleep, Nicky must have loved that! He was always at the restaurant getting the grits ready for the breakfast crowd by 4:30 every morning not matter how late he’d gotten in the night before.”
The Dairy Bar crowd still fondly remembers Nicky, and his father.
“There are still people that come out of their way to get a hot dog from Dairy Bar,” said Howard. “They still use Nicky’s Daddy’s recipe for chili- nobody knows the secret recipe. Gus Demetrious passed it down, and Charlie won’t tell you what it is. We’ve had people ask him.”
The scholarships will be given to a member of the FMU men or women’s tennis team first preference that they are from the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. Once the scholarship is endowmed at $25,000, the scholarships will be given out based on earnings, usually between $800 to $1,000 per year to a student athlete.
At Francis Marion, 87% of students earn some type of financial assistance, and include many first generation college students.
Contributions are tax deductible, payable to the Francis Marion University Foundation, P.O. Box 100547, Florence, S.C. 29502-0547 (subject: Nicky Demetrious) or call: 843-661-1295.