After sitting vigil with my brother for three days, Peter George Nestor died peacefully 11/18 2015. Declining health exacerbated by a stroke in July was a forbearing harbinger. His passing was not a surprise but nevertheless shocking, like a body blow that left me gasping for air. Pete was sixteen months my senior and one of but a few constants in my life.
Excuse the analogy but my brother Pete and I loved football and played together formally from the age of 8. I’ve felt that Pete had been in the fourth quarter of life for some time, at least since a visit with him in September. It had become 4th and long, no matter how he’d dug in and the team tried there was seemingly no gain in yardage. He’d always been tenacious, one to dig in his heels, fight in the trenches and never give up, but the long struggle, with so many physical problems piling on over the last few years was just too much. Although the will had been there, as it has Pete’s entire life, especially driven by a strong love for his children and grandchildren, his desire to continue the fight faded. He accepted his fate, threw in the towel and went home. We shared much during the time spent together over the years at play and work, through thick and thin, loss and triumph, in joy and sorrow, laughing, crying, hunting, fishing, on the bays, rivers and ocean, in the woods, and through turmoil and tranquility. It will now be no more.
Two days later, my 97-year-old Mother, Sophie Prodromos Nestor 6/6 1918 left us. Did she sense the death of her first born and feel a need to be with him or was it just her time to go?
I would venture that anyone who knew or ever interacted with Mom was left with an aha Sophie moment. Her energy level and determination to get things done was awe-inspiring, made you wonder where it all came from and how she operated so well on so little rest. Mom was exuberantly passionate about what she believed in and the people around her. She was a life-long social activist and community organizer who fought for women’s rights by doing before it was a movement. She devoted herself to her family and to those who needed support, assistance or a helping hand.
In many ways, we were the quintessential American family. Before Dad, George Peter Nestor, left for 3.5 years of legendary service on the battlefields of North Africa and Europe, he and Mom married on July 4th, 1942. While Dad was away during WWII Mom volunteered as a Gray Lady, caring for wounded soldiers housed in Atlantic City beachfront hotels that had been converted to hospitals. The two boys and younger sisters Niki then Argy rounded out the family that lived in a big white house, on Main Street, in Pleasantville, NJ where we raised beagles and farmed the back-field. We caught, shot or grew much of what we ate, Mom was PTA president, drove a station wagon and worked diligently to make it better for many. Right beside was Dad, who served 25 years on the school board and as a professional fire-fighter at a government jet experimental center. Mom’s tireless volunteer work included a variety of woman’s organizations that helped provide less fortunate families and children, supporting the Greek Orthodox Church community, teaching generations traditional ethnic dancing, as well as working with the schools to develop programs that fostered communication between parents, teachers, children and education. Given her commitment to public school programs it is no wonder that all of her children earned advanced degrees and served professionally as educators.
If you knew Mom there is no doubt you have a Sophie story to share. She leaves a legacy that shines through many, a fortitude to know what needed to be done and the strength to do it, something she has shared by example. She was a strong woman before her time and yet never hesitated to take on the male power base, that she did with respect, but often also directly to the chagrin of many. She got things done and served as a role model while doing it. Her credentials are many with a long list of accomplishments and achievements, somewhat different perhaps from a successful vita today, but no less important, effective and surely impressive. Sophie’s spirit is alive and well in her daughters and grandchildren.
Over the years I’ve been asked about my parents by people who did not know them. I share that my Mom had, only figuratively of course, burned her bra sometime in the 1950s, might have been even earlier. She was a powerhouse whether as Miss Atlantic City, South Jersey Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, Alumni Statuette Award winner (top female athlete in AC class of 1936), St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church’s first woman President, Multiple gallon Red Cross blood doner, and the list goes on and on. I bid her a loving farewell and safe journey as she joins many loved ones who have gone before: her gracious lovely Mother YiaYia Sylvia; father Prodromos; sisters Vivian, Bea and brother George; and of course, her husband of 64 years George P Nestor and first born child Peter G Nestor.
Paul- To you and your family:
Wishing You a Very Happy Holiday Filled With Peace, Hope, Laughter, & Love