Themistocles Rodis

A former professor of mine died last week. Here’s his obituary from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He was my European History prof when I was a freshman. As a freshman in the music school my interest in the subject was, shall we say, not exactly obsessive. Nevertheless, he hung in there and tried his best to highlight things that might grab my attention.

Later on I became good friends with his son Costa, a fellow student, who was in classes with the pseudonymous Anthony Cartouche. Later still, I helped him in his migration to the east coast and became friends with his cousin Monica. So despite being a “C” student with scant interest I became close to the family. Go figure.

Last summer I ran into him again. Costa’s daughter was graduating high school, and he had a big party up in Glen Rock and he invited me. When he told me his dad was there I almost fell over. “He must be 90 years old!” I said, and Costa replied “yup.”

I’ll tell you what, though, it was the most inspiring conversation I’ve had in the last few years. He remembered me right away and seemed really glad to see me. And he was as sharp — make that sharper — than 99% of the people I run into who are in the so-called “prime of their life.” He was still reading and learning constantly — a very new book came up, just published, and I mentioned I was halfway through it. He’d already finished it!

We had a great talk about politics and family, and it’s a memory I’ll treasure always as well as a role model for how to be when I grow up.

6 thoughts on “Themistocles Rodis”

  1. Sorry about the loss of Mr Rodis, someone who sounds like he was a lovely man as well as a mentor to you. Sympathies to Costa and the rest the Rodis family.

  2. I too had the pleasure of engaging Dr. Rodis in conversation in recent years, and finding him to be as gracious a host and as mentally acute at age 85 or so as he was when I first met him more than 30 years ago.

    You hear people say “he’s a gentleman and a scholar” from time to time, but no one better exemplified those two qualities than Dr. Rodis did. He extended me many kindnesses over the past 33 years, more than I could ever have hoped to repay. He was a great man, and his death reminds me to keep in better touch with Costa and with the rest of his family.

  3. My wife too sends her condolences. We’d see him at the Greek Fest here in Tremont almost every year. One year he ate with us. Upon hearing of his death she related this humorous tid bit.
    She once fell asleep during one of his lectures. When she woke up she noticed that the other few people who were in the class that day were sleeping and he was gone.

  4. Dr. Rodis was my advisor and mentor at B-W from 1965 to 1969. I doubt that I would have become a professional historian were it not for “Them’s” obvious love for ancient history, which was infectious. I sent him Christmas cards every year, but had not realized that he had died until the B-W list of donors arrived today with an asterisk next to his name. If I can inspire my own students just 50% as well as “Them” did, I would account my life a success. He will be missed.

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