Nikos Papageorgiou is one of the national benefactors, that his life had many challenges in store for him.
A person with courage and social sensitivity, the late businessman left his mark with his action, always with tact and kindness as an ally.
It is characteristic that he was unknown to most of Thessalonians, although the donation of the Papageorgiou hospital to the city by him and him, also deceased, his brother, Leonida, is a milestone.
"I was not influenced by third party interventions, my goal was a goal", had declared on the occasion of 20 years of operation of the hospital, commenting on the reactions of the local Authorities, the period when its construction began.
Nikos Papageorgiou, a man of vision
The Papageorgiou brothers donated the amount of 30 million dollars (about 7,5 billion drachmas then) for the construction of the Western Thessaloniki hospital.
"I also wanted to build a hospital, to help the western districts of Thessaloniki, where everyone was destitute", as he has said.
So in extent 157 acres, 7 kilometers from the city center, the Papageorgiou hospital was built within five years – a record time for the Greek reality of that time. In fact, the Attikon hospital in Haidari was based on the model study of the Papageorgiou hospital.
“If you want to see it end, build it yourself", the late Konstantinos Mitsotakis had told him, so he started working on it literally from morning to night.
For the first three years the hospital remained closed, although it was fully equipped and started operating with staff on loan from other hospitals.
Nikos Papageorgiou, who was the first chairman of the Board of Directors. of the hospital, from 1997 until the 2009, he had stated: "Our vision was the operation of a modern hospital, worthy of those abroad, which offers high quality health services, with respect and love for them, who are in need. Something I believe has been achieved".
The Papageorgiou brothers were awarded the silver medal by the Academy of Athens, but they did not attend to receive it, “not out of snobbery, but because we were absent abroad and were notified at the last minute", as they themselves have explained.
A life intertwined with commerce
"Our origin is from Siatista, Kozani, but our ancestors from father and mother came from the highlands of Epirus. He was our great grandfather, which started from Samarina, to become a priest in Siatista and from Gianniotis, he was named Papageorgiou.
Grandfather and father were involved in trade and tailoring, while all our mother's family consisted of well-traveled merchants. There is evidence, referring to commercial transactions, which they concluded in Vienna, before 150 years on furs".
The 1944 it was a milestone year for the Papageorgiou family. The Germans arrested and killed the father of Nikos and his brothers, in charge of EAM Siatistis.
"We are orphaned three boys. I, The largest,14 years and the others 12 years and 4 years. Our mother is sick and does not work, we don't have real estate or money and our situation is dramatic", the national benefactor had mentioned excitedly, recalling his father and the enormous difficulties, brought about by his loss.
Orphanage forced him and his two other minor siblings, the late Leonidas and Apostolos, to engage in the fur trade immediately after graduating from the historic Trabanzio Gymnasium of Siatista.
In the years, which followed, the deceased stubbornly, industriousness and toil he managed to become wealthy. Never, Nevertheless, he did not fail to offer, quietly, without advertising it.
For the hospital donation, named after his family, has emphasized: "It wasn't about money. It was a matter of humanity and paying off a debt to the country and to fellow human beings".
The 1947 he went to Athens, where his mother's brother ran a small craft fur processing plant and he begins work as an apprentice. His two brothers later joined this same unit. They learned the job and soon developed into fashion designers.
From 1953 some commercial activity also begins timidly. Two years later, one brother immigrates to America and the 1958 the second follows, as an immigrant in Germany. They maintain, Nevertheless, always unbreakable close family and professional ties.
Success and supply
success is coming 1960, when the brothers reunite and start their exporting effort, aiming at the European market. Within three years they manage to become the first export brand in the field of furs and since then they have maintained this first place uninterruptedly for many years.
"The secret of our success is proper and long-term planning. We set some goals, whom we served with our wives, with hard work, responsibility and consistency. In recent years, our children have also joined this work, due to which we passed the last major crisis that hit our industry, not with shrinkage, but by extension", Nikos Papageorgiou has stated.
The business of the Papageorgiou brothers is not limited to the export of furs. The 1972 set up a versatile factory in Siatista and set up their permanent business headquarters in Frankfurt.
Two of the three brothers, Nikos and Leonidas Papageorgiou, although they had two children each, they believe that their businesses can be the best bequest to them and that is why they indulge in donations of hundreds of millions, before they even set up the institution of the same name, for the needs of the hospital.
According to the retired brigadier general, which participates as a third member in the "Papageorgiou Foundation", Nikolaos Christianakis, the two brothers have erected a Gymnasium-Lyceum in Siatista at an expense 140 million drachmas, while for many years they covered the fields of education with donations, of the church, municipality's, of sports. They also contributed to the completion of many public buildings in Siatista and were declared benefactors of their hometown.
They have, not, build a church for the Greeks of Frankfurt at their own expense.
The ethos and life of Nikos Papageorgiou, with the consistency and principles that followed him, were recognized and he was declared a great National Benefactor by the Greek State. He was honored with many distinctions and titles, with a maximum award of the Office of Lord Referendary by the Ecumenical Patriarchate