Calling hours will be held at The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1319 Main Street, Fitchburg on Thursday, March 18, 2021 beginning at 10:30 a.m., immediately followed by a funeral service at the church at noon. Interment will be at Forest Hill Cemetery, with full military honors. Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, masks will be required, and social distancing guidelines will be followed. A celebration of Ted’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Trinity in Ted’s memory.
Theodore Michael Nikitas, of Leominster, cherished husband, proud father and “Papo,” selfless friend, and ally to many, died peacefully Friday, March 12, 2021, in his home, surrounded by his family. He had waged a valiant battle against Parkinson’s Disease – a challenge he faced with profound courage, dignity, and tenacity – the same principles that guided him throughout his nearly 91 years.
Left to treasure and honor his memory are his loving wife of 60 years, Elizabeth E. Nikitas; his daughter Stephanie Nikitas Renzi, and son-in-law Anthony J. Renzi, Jr. of Potomac, Maryland; his daughter Francine Nikitas Ayles of Leominster; and his precious son Michael Theodore Nikitas, of Leominster, for whom his devotion and adoration knew no bounds. He also leaves his five heartbroken grandchildren: Michael R. Ayles and Emily E. Ayles, both of Leominster; Alexander N. Renzi of Mobile, Alabama; and Matthew G. Renzi and Nicholas M. A. Renzi, both of Potomac, Maryland; and many dear nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Ted was born in his family home on Read Street in Fitchburg, a special neighborhood known as “Greek Town,” on April 10, 1930, a son of Stavroula (Tsiaousi) and Michael S. Nikitas. He was predeceased by his brothers Spylios M., Christus M., and Charles M., and sisters Angela M., and Diamond M. Nikitas. He was the namesake of an older brother who had passed away as a toddler.
From a young age, he knew responsibility and embraced it. Too young to serve during World War II, he experienced its trauma nonetheless, having all three brothers deployed simultaneously. At the age of 13, he was tasked with delivering a telegram to his own parents, sent to inform them that his brother Chris was missing in action in Japan. During this trying period and beyond, his commitment to his family was his priority. He worked alongside his father, who owned “Nikitas Fruit Co.” making daily deliveries, later musing that his first car was a fruit truck. He entered Fitchburg High School as the war was drawing to a close. Always industrious and tireless, he held many jobs as a teen, including years at W. E. Aubuchon Hardware in Fitchburg to support his family, a commitment he honored for the remaining years of his life.
After graduating from high school, Mr. Nikitas joined the Air Force, stationed first in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania then as a Staff Sargent in Japan during the Korean Conflict. Upon his discharge from the service, he enrolled at Clark University, working to pay his own way, in part by serving as a Resident Advisor at Estabrook Hall, a story he loved to share with his grandchildren. He was a proud member of Phi Alpha fraternity. Shortly after his graduation in 1959, he was introduced to his future wife Elizabeth by his sister Diamond. They married in 1961, settling in Leominster the following year. There, they made their family home and created a lifetime of memories.
Ted’s faith was central to his life. He and his wife passed these traditions on to their children, who hold them dear. Raised in The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Fitchburg, he was active there throughout his lifetime, first serving as an altar boy, later steering countless committees, chairing church festivals, and serving as both President of the Men’s Fraternal Club, and Parish President. In recognition of his life-long service to the church, Archbishop Methodios honored him with the Clergy-Laity Award in the summer of 2000.
He was Vice President of Manufacturing of Charlton Furniture Company in Leominster. When Charlton closed its business unexpectedly in 1983, he joined ModuForm Inc. as Assistant to the President. He was named to the Board of Directors of Fidelity Cooperative Bank and served for 27 years. Having dreamed of starting his own business, he founded Classic Design, Inc., operating in Gardner, Massachusetts.
Always striving to serve others, he was active in the community. He was Past President of The Beacon of Hope; a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Leominster Area Chamber of Commerce; and held many leadership roles at the ARC of Opportunity in Fitchburg, an organization supporting individuals with developmental disabilities.
His sense of humor and zest for life were contagious, maintaining a trademark sparkle in his eyes even throughout his illness. “Papo” took great pride in his family, lovingly advising his grandchildren that “it is better to keep up than to catch up” with their schoolwork, and reminding them to “love and take care of each other.” It was advice well heeded.
He traveled the world with his family and dear “Parea,” but his most treasured excursions were the winters spent in retirement at his home in Naples, Florida with his wife Elizabeth and son Michael by his side. His loss is immeasurable.
The family is eternally grateful to Ivette, Mandy, Maria, Sharon, and Vicky, for their tireless dedication and loving care over the past two years.