Businessman embraced heritage, American dream
Nikolaos “Nick” Batis marched into a Monroeville restaurant to meet the girl in which his younger brother was interested.
The young Greek immigrant ended up meeting his future wife.
“I'd never laid eyes on him before,” said Carol Stefanos Batis of Plum. “When people ask me if I believe in love at first sight, I say, ‘Yes, I do. I was one of the lucky ones.' ”
Mr. Batis of Plum died Saturday, April 25, 2015, after a long battle with kidney disease that developed into rare nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. He was 62.
A son of John N. Batis of Plum and the late Joanna Loukisa Batis, Mr. Batis grew up on the Greek island Andros.
“They had no running water and dirt floors, but they thought they had everything,” said his wife of 39 years. “They had fruit trees, the sea and fresh fish.”
After a decade of trying, the Batis family in 1966 finally set sail for the United States and to join an uncle living in Verona.
Mr. Batis, then in his teens, attended Verona High School and was part of its final graduating class.
When he graduated from a technical school in McKees Rocks, Mr. Batis worked for an electrical company in Bridgeville for a year before opening a business.
That grew into Batis Electric Company Inc., which he operated for 38 years.
“He would work all day, then he would come home and do something else he loved — garden,” Carol Batis said.
Mr. Batis grew garlic, onions, tomatoes and asparagus, along with figs, apples and peaches.
“He had a green thumb,” she said. “Anything he touched grew.”
Every spring, Mr. Batis butchered lamb for the rest of the year and grilled one over a spit for Easter.
He attended Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church of Oakmont, where for the annual Greek festival he hung the banners, set up the tents and lights, and sliced gyro meat.
John Batis of Gibsonia called his father “the epitome of the American dream.”
“He just enjoyed everything — the fruits of his labor,” his son said.
And whether during a special meal or sitting around the Christmas tree or after one of his children accomplished something at school, Mr. Batis greeted such moments with his favorite saying: “Only in America.”
“We're going to miss him,” John Batis said.
In addition to his father, wife and son, Mr. Batis is survived by his daughter, Nicole Batis of Lower Burrell; brothers Jerry Batis and Tasso Batis, both of North Huntingdon; and his grandson, Maximus Batis.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in Patrick T. Lanigan Funeral Home in East Pittsburgh. Trisagion will be held at 7:30 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday in Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church.
Memorials may be made to the Global Fibrosis Foundation, care of Carol Hribko, Yale Dermatopathology Service, 15 York St., LMP 5031, New Haven, CT 06520-8059.
Jason Cato is a writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-320-7936 or email@example.com.