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It’s rare in life when you can easily identify the best person you know. For the past 30 years, I answered that question by saying “Lee Gliarmis.”
I was proud to call him “Papou.” It’s Greek for grandfather, but it also carries with it great love and respect. That’s what I had for Lee Gliarmis.
As a student at Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, I became a fixture at the counter. Mr. G always treated me like I was the most important person in the building. Somehow, he treated everyone that way.
As I grew older I would plan my visits to Dick’s to fall between his morning prep work and the lunch rush. I would sit at the booth nearest to the kitchen and when I was lucky, he would sit down with me. We talked about sports, family and life in general. Outside of sports, I never heard him say anything I disagreed with. His wisdom and kindness were unmatched.
I once saw the look in his eyes when he talked about giving up his dream of coaching to come run the family business. It only stayed there a moment. He knew he did the right thing and it became an example of love of family that should inspire us all. Lee Gliarmis could have been a great football coach. But I have no doubt he touched more lives from behind that counter in Wilson.
Each year on Greek Orthodox Easter I would go by Dick’s or call on the phone. I would attempt to say “Christos anesti,” meaning “Christ is risen.” Mr. G would correct my Greek pronunciation and then respond “Alithos Anesti,” meaning “Truly, He has risen.” Today I take solace in those words, knowing that the promise of the resurrection means both Lee and Janie are in a much better place.
There will never be another Lee Gliarmis. He was a unique man from a unique generation. I am thankful that I carry no regrets, as I told him often what he meant to me.
My prayer today is for the family and in particular Soc, Lee, Chrisanne and Ricki. I pray that they can live their lives in the warm glow of his spirit and never feel the burden of living in his shadow. No one can live up to the standard he set. He was one of a kind.
I will miss you, Papou.