Nick Bartis, beloved father, Papou, and friend passed away at his home on September 24th. His mind was sharp and his heart full of love to the very end. After 91 years though, his body succumbed to “every affliction known to man” and could no longer sustain his inquisitive mind. His final days were spent laughing and telling the stories of a life well-lived. During this difficult but joyful time, he expressed his deep love for his family, friends, and home. Due to the pandemic we are unable to gather safely and have a Big Fat Greek Celebration of Life. Hopefully we can do that soon, but for now we offer this obituary in tribute to him and to thank all the dear friends and caregivers who provided love, care, and companionship over the many years.
Nick was born on April 18, 1929 in Elmira, NY. He was the youngest son of James Nicholas Bartis and Armida Corogenis Bartis, immigrants from Mytilene, Greece. The Greek culture of family, hospitality, love, hard work, and great food infused every facet of his life. Nick is preceded in death by his parents, his wife Willowdean, as well as his siblings, Steve, Tom and Betty.
The love and support of Nick’s parents and siblings propelled Nick to achieve many wonderful things in his life. His family moved to Greensboro when he was twelve, and it was his happy home for the better part of 79 years. He graduated from Greensboro Senior High in 1947 and enrolled in UNC Chapel Hill. In 1951, while working and attending school, Nick was drafted and joined the Army to fight in the Korean War. He made the rank of 1st Lieutenant and received The Combat Infantry Badge. A recording of his experience in the war, conducted by his nephew, Peter Bartis, is part of the Library of Congress Veteran’s History Project and can be found at this link https://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.08961/
You can also search for a similar recount of WWII conducted with Nick’s brother-in-law, Jack Lindbergh Land.
After serving in Korea, Nick returned to UNC (GO HEELS!) where he received a BA in Chemistry and a Master’s in Public Health. While in Chapel Hill he saw a beautiful nursing student. With the help of a friend (Ellie Poulos), he concocted a ruse to meet her. (She never actually believed a graduate student with a chemistry degree would need to borrow a nursing book.) Nick married Willowdean Land in 1957. The newlyweds moved to Philadelphia where Nick attended Dental School and Willowdean worked as a public health nurse. He received his Doctor of Dentistry from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also served as President of the Psi Omega Dental Fraternity.
The couple returned to Greensboro, and Nick opened his dental practice in Greensboro in 1961. His laid-back office was like Floyd’s Barber shop — where patients were friends and the staff were family. He was a member of the American Dental Society, served as President of the Guilford County Dental Society, and was a member of Dental Advisory Committee of the Guilford County Health Department which started the GTCC Dental Hygiene program. He loved being a dentist and, even more, the people it brought into his life.
He was a member of the Jaycees, Crackpots, and Old Timers Clubs, and served on the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He was a proud member of the Dormition of the Theotokos Church where he served as President of the Parish Council, Chairman of the Building Committee, and founding member of the Greensboro Greek Festival alongside his long-time friend, Bill Anton. For many years Papou ran the Loukoumadis (Greek doughnut) tent and ate as many as he sold.
Nick was a man of many talents, and the house was always full of joyful noise. He gardened, fished, golfed, painted, wood-worked, and repaired all kinds of machines. He loved art, music, games, and food. He never moved fast, but he never stopped moving. For years he repaired player pianos, then pinball machines, lawn mowers and made jewelry. Discarded items were unpolished diamonds, and he could make something out of them. For years the trees in his yard displayed giant birds and insects made from old lamps and grill parts he picked up from the side of the road. If you needed a giant dragonfly with Coke bottles for eyes and tennis racket wings…he was your guy. Yard sales were treasure hunts and Greensboro full of bounty.
In 2016, Nick lost Willowdean after 59 years. He could no longer physically manage the garden or any of the more taxing hobbies, but he persisted on. His last few years were spent at home teaching caregivers to cook Greek food, making earrings, working the crossword, playing (and sometimes cheating at) Rummikub, looking at “The Facemail,” and complaining about the oversized chickens at Harris Teeter.
Nick is survived by his adoring children Stephanie Bartis (Kathy Clark), Jim Bartis (Patti), and Stacy Bartis Lane, as well as four cherished grandchildren, Adriana Lane, Izabela Lane, Eleanor Bartis, and Nicholas Bartis
There will be a private family service Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020 followed by burial at Forest Lawn Cemetery at 3:15PM. All are welcome to attend the burial service, but please observe social distancing. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church Bell Tower Fund.
We would also love to receive notes with funny memories and stories about our Dad. You may do this online at www.forbisanddick.com, or you may send notes to Stephanie Bartis, 400 McAdoo Ave., Greensboro, NC 27406. Forbis and Dick North Elm Street Funeral Home is serving the Bartis Family.