It is with a very heavy heart that I announce the passing of my father and Patriarch of the Sierros family, Nickolaos Sierros. Lovingly called “Nick” by all his friends, Dad was born in the renowned wine-making village of Malandreni in Argolidos, Greece on November 29, 1939. He diligently worked on the family farm growing and selling table grapes and making olive oil alongside his late father Konstantinos Sierros. In 1962 he honorably served in the Elite Greek Armored Force Unit as a Black Beret tank driver. When he finished his commitment to the military, he decided to leave Greece and try to make a “better life” in Australia where other relatives and townspeople had already migrated to after World War II. In 1965, he signed up for the “populate or perish” migration plan funded by the Australian government which paid for free passage to Australia. The infamous Bonegilla Migrant Camp was his first taste of his new country and through the grace of a compassionate stranger traveling with him from his neighboring state of Corinthia, my father was able to “escape to Melbourne” and joined his much beloved first cousins Frosso, Maria, Dina, John and George, who had already settled in Melbourne a few years earlier. These people made his struggles manageable in those early years and gave a fighting chance for his new life in a foreign land. Those amazing cousins stayed very dear to him for the rest of his life and he credited some of the most amazing moments of his life to the precious times he spent with them.
In January of 1966, he met and married my late mother, Dimitra Koutretsi Sierros. I was born in late December and the three of us lived in Richmond, a then small suburb of Melbourne. During that time, my father worked in various jobs, initially at the local Dunlop tire factory, then in a paper mill and finally as a foreman for the electric company laying underground wire under the roads of the ever-expanding city of Melbourne. Life in Australia was happy yet it seemed that the more they both worked the harder it was to get ahead financially. Unexpectedly, my mother was diagnosed with Lupus and “a better life” seemed to be impossible to achieve. My father understood that his quest for “a better life” could only be achieved if he moved again. In the early months of 1972, he made the decision to join the rest of his family that had already migrated to the United States. His youngest and most beloved brother Christos along with their sister Panagiota were leading the way with their own bold quest “for a better life” by also leaving Greece and heading to Hartford Connecticut, where my father, mother and myself inevitably joined them. There in Hartford, with the combined efforts from all the Sierros clan, they started their first restaurant, ABC Pizza in Cromwell, CT. Through the years, each remaining sibling was sponsored and brought to the United States - Ilias Sierros and his wife Efstathia created and operated the well-known Campus Pizza in Hadley, Vassiliki Sierros Zahariadis and her husband George operated the Auburn Pizza outside of Worcester, Christos Sierros and his wife Georgia established Village Pizza in Easthampton and Panagiota Sierros Retsinas and her husband Vassilis operated Bantam Pizza in Litchfield, CT. Back in Greece, the oldest brother George Sierros and his wife Panagiota (Nota) remained as the corner stone of the entire family, and the beacon that shined the light to show each member of the Sierros family the way back home.
But many of you knew my father, Nick, not from those early years, but from the time we moved to Florence in 1983. There, he purchased and operated A-1 Pizza on Maple Street next to Bird’s Store, where he still remained the “Patron (Boss)” till the day he passed. From this one little neighborhood pizza shop, he worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for years on end, as the epitome of work ethic, truly achieving the American Dream.
In his later years, as his age required, he took a less “hands on” role in the family restaurants, but he continued his routine to visit each restaurant daily with a dozen donuts or some kind of treat for the staff in hand. Visiting was his daily solace. He also strongly believed in acknowledging and appreciating every single customer that entered our restaurants. Dad was emphatic about teaching me that our success was only possible because of our customers dedicated patronage and we needed to show our appreciation if the opportunity arose. For dad, this opportunity happened on every one of his daily visits. With a hand gesture to whoever was behind the counter, he would often pick up the tab for drinks or food or whatever he felt he wanted to do to show his love and appreciation for the people that visited with him. I am sure many who will read this memorial to him will have experienced these acts of generosity first hand. But this acknowledgment and appreciation didn’t end with customers. Every single person that worked for him was also treated with that same level of kindness and respect. He very personally knew the hard labor that was necessary to keep each place running, and he demonstrated his empathy in countless ways for all the employees. For example, he had an intense feeling that everyone should have comfortable, new and clean shoes for work. It was perhaps in his childhood that he recognized the privilege and the importance of being able to own good shoes and that these shoes gave one dignity and how one kept their shoes defined as to who they were. And so, my father would frequent Ted’s Boot shop in Northampton and purchase and personally hand deliver new work shoes for his employees. I would not be exaggerating to say that he purchased hundreds of pairs of shoes through the years -so many shoes that, in fact, the employees at Ted’s knew exactly what he wanted every time he came in. These type of life lessons were conveyed by my father not only to me, his biological son, but also to the many, many employees that came into our family business as teenagers and stayed with us twenty and some even thirty years later. Most of them now feel that they too lost a father.
My father’s life touched many people throughout his life with his limitless generosity and constant acts of kindness. His incredible work ethic, unmatched business sense and relentless Filotimo is the reason I am who I am today. His strive for a “better life” ultimately gave me the “best life” I could have ever expected from a parent.
He leaves behind his two grandchildren for whom he adored and was most proud of – his granddaughter Dimitra “Toula” Sierros, and his grandson Nikhil “Niki” Sierros (who was named after him). He also leaves me, his son, Konstantinos N. Sierros, his daughter-in-law Sunita Sierros, and his “second son” Panagiotis “Peter” Sierros. He leaves his beloved brother and sister-in-law Christos and Georgia Sierros, his sister Vassiliki “Vasso” Zahariades, his sister Panagiota Retsinas, his brother and sister-in-law Ilias “Louie” and Efstathia “Effie” Sierros, and his sister-in-law Panagiota “Nota” Sierros. He also leaves countless family in Greece, the United States, Canada and Australia.
Nickolaos Sierros, my father, was one of the last of a generation that strove to make the world a better place while searching for a better life for himself and his family. We will miss you dad.
Calling hours will be Saturday December 19th from 9 til 11am at the Mitchell Funeral Home 15 Park Street Easthampton Ma. A Graveside Committal service will follow at 130pm in Forestdale Cemetery Holyoke Cabot Street www.mitchellcofuneralhome.com
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