- A Tribute to Nikolaos A. Stavrou 1935–2011
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Nikolaos A. Stavrou, the founder of Mediterranean Quarterly and editor since 1990, passed away on 29 December 2011. He is survived by his wife, Katarina, and two brothers and two sisters and their families. Funeral services took place in Bethesda, Maryland, on 2 January 2012.
The family of Professor Stavrou and the staff of Mediterranean Quarterly have received many expressions of loss on the death of a friend and colleague. Among the tributes are the following. [End Page 1]
Professor Nikolaos A. Stavrou is no longer with us. No individual with whom I have had the good fortune to regard as a dear friend combined the warm personality, the gift of whimsy, the fidelity to principle, and the erudition that Nik possessed in abundance. Over some fifty years each encounter with him was an education. While never leaving doubt as to his strong sentiments on critical issues, they were never an obstacle to his commitment to preserve the Mediterranean Quarterly as an objective forum. His dedication and unstinting effort on behalf of the journal far surpassed any definition of editor, and there can be no doubt that his leadership will be missed and difficult to emulate. I am keenly aware that expressing a sense of loss cannot be equated with that experienced by dear Katarina and by Nik’s siblings, but I trust that there may be some comfort in the knowledge that many share at least a portion of their grief.
Lucien N. Nedzi
Former member of Congress (Democrat of Michigan)
Member of the board of Mediterranean Affairs, Inc.
Member of the Mediterranean Quarterly editorial advisory board
Niko Stavrou (he sometimes signed himself simply Nik) was the fine scholar who founded Mediterranean Quarterly in the summer of 1989, a few months before the Cold War came to a mostly tranquil end. For those familiar with recent scientific studies of Balkan DNA, Niko could serve as the archetypal figure. For the studies show that all the peoples of southeastern Europe share genetic characteristics of the Hellenes, Illyrians, Slavs, Thracians, and Phoenicians.
In Niko’s case, he was born in 1935 in the largely Hellenic mountain village of Griazdani in Epirus, just a few miles inside the southern frontier of Albania. He wrote of it lovingly as a place of “sparse oak forests” and “numerous caves.” The toponym Griazdani is of Slavic origin. The Stavrous were also considered partly Vlach, including some distinguished Greek-Vlach [End Page 2] ancestors, which would make them descendants of Roman settlers. Thus I like to think that Niko’s genetic heritage could also be termed “Mediterranean” in the best and widest sense.
In his career as a professor of political science at Howard University, in his writing, and in his editorship of this quarterly, he manifested a deep understanding of Serbs, of Albanians, and of the other peoples of southeastern Europe. In a sense he even married into the Balkans when he wed Katarina Ivancevic of Montenegro.
His life was marked by two wars. Nazi troops scourged his village in spring 1944. Soon after, Communist forces seized power in Albania. His family had to flee their ancestral home in January 1952. They walked across an ice-covered minefield for six hours to reach the safety of Greece. Soon afterward his beloved elder brother, Grigorios, joined the Greek intelligence service. Grigorios was dispatched on a mission to what had become the Socialist Peoples Republic of Albania. He was captured, tortured, tried, condemned to death, and finally executed in September 1953. This was perhaps the central event in Niko’s life. (Having lost a beloved brother in war, I have an idea of what that means.) Niko spent the next fifty-four years trying to find out what exactly had happened and where Grigorios was buried.
Having attended the prestigious Zosimaia high school in Ioannina, Niko went on to earn his B.A. at Hunter College and his M.A. and doctorate at George Washington University. In addition to his teaching duties he wrote extensively on Greece, Albania, and Yugoslavia. But...