Nicholas J. Bouras, a great benefactor of the Church, Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and a member of the “greatest generation” that fought World War II, died Dec. 22, surrounded by his loving family and friends at his residence in Summit, N.J.. He was 93.
Mr. Bouras’ philanthropic efforts on behalf of the Church over the past several decades are numerous.
His endeavors have included many contributions; donations of the steel for the construction of several churches of the Archdiocese, including Holy Trinity in Westfield, his home parish; St. Anna in Flemington, N.J., named for his late wife; Kimisis tis Theotokou in Southampton, N.Y., and was the first to offer assistance for the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Church at Ground Zero.
Mr. Bouras was born in Pontiac, Mich., and was raised in Chicago. Prior to WWII, he was employed at U.S. Steel Corporation. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in 1942 and, by the end of 1945, he attained the rank of major and had flown 44 combat missions in the European theater as lead navigator and bombardier on 36 B-26 bomber aircraft.
In 1946, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters. His assignments included the 9th Air Force headquarters, 386th Bomb Group and the Headquarters 9th Air Division, 552nd Bomb Squadron. After his honorable discharge from the military, Mr. Bouras returned to his position with U.S. Steel, where he remained for 20 years. In 1955, he graduated from the Northwestern University School of Commerce.
In 1960, he and his late wife, Anna K. Bouras, embarked on an entrepreneurial career that led to the creation of one of America’s leading manufacturers of fabricated steel components for the commercial real estate industry. Bouras Industries Inc., consisted of five operating companies with manufacturing operations in four states – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Illinois, with yearly sales exceeding $200 million.
For nearly 40 years, his privately owned company supplied steel to contractors who helped transform New York’s skyline. In 1970, this impact on the skyline began with the construction of World Trade Center Tower 4 and was followed by the construction of buildings for Hearst, Bloomberg, Bear Sterns, and Goldman Sachs, and as the Time Warner Center. His company also supplied steel for the construction of professional sports stadiums and arenas, which included the Yankees, Giants, Patriots, Ravens, Redskins, Celtics, 76ers, Wizards, and the Devils. In 2007, Bouras Industries ceased operations with the sale of four companies and more than 700 employees. Mr. Bouras’ business achievements enabled him to positively impact the lives of thousands of people in need, including those in pursuit of higher education, as well as numerous non-profit institutions throughout the world. He exhibited extraordinary commitment to his local parish, Holy Trinity Church, which he helped found and served on the parish council for more than 40 years.
His support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Hellenic College, Orthodox Christian Mission Center, and numerous philanthropic causes typified his enduring generosity for humanitarian projects. A 25- year member of the Archdiocesan Council and National Council of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archon Vice Commander Bouras was central to expanding initiatives of these important institutions. His philanthropy empowered the Orderof St. Andrew to develop a multifaceted domestic and international strategic plan to secure religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Mr. Bouras was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Hellenic College, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Alpha Omega Council Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award from the American Hellenic Institute, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst and Young, the Humanitarian Philanthropic Award from the Cyprus Federation of America, the Athenagoras Human Rights Award from the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, and the Republican Senatorial Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the Republican members of the U.S. Senate can bestow.
Mr. Bouras is survived by his sister-in-law Tina Kariotis and brother-in-law John Mathrusse; nieces Susan Tseng (Greg), Pamela Kariotis (James), Elizabeth Smejda (Karolus), and Georgeane Valos (John); nephews James Mathrusse (Jiemin) and Robert Kariotis; grandnieces Katie and Emma; and grandnephews Matt, Brian, Andrew, and Rocco.
Funeral services were held Dec. 27 at Holy Trinity Church with Archbishop Demetrios officiating, assisted by Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, with several other clergy participating. Burial followed at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield. Memorial donations may be made to St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church in Flemington, N.J. and/or Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Westfield, NJ.