Preface

Who is Dr. Andrew Batsis? You ask. He was a loving husband, a gentle dentist, a caring Kiwanian, and he resembled Santa Claus. His round face housed two sparkling blue eyes and a nicely trimmed white beard, moustache, and hairline. His rounded belly shook when he laughed whole-heartedly.

He was the first born of Sophie Apostolou Batsis and Christos Batsis; the oldest of three children: Andrew, Ted and Madeline. Andy was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 6, 1941-5 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor (Hawaii). His paternal grandparents influenced him and brother Ted as well as their parents when they lived in Brooklyn. When the family moved to Bradley Beach, New Jersey, and Madeline was born, they were influenced by Aunt Bess (Sophie's sister) as well.

Andy's education started in Brooklyn and continued in Bradley Beach. He graduated from Asbury Park High School I June of 1958. He attended Monmouth College, was accepted early at Tufts University, MA in 1963, returned to New Jersey and graduated Monmouth College in 1965. He graduated the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry (renamed in 2013, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine) in the summer of 1967, when he also obtained his license to practice dentistry in New Jersey.

So far, there's nothing special or different about Andrew's life. Working as a dentist, he made everyone coming to him feel comfortable. He treated his patients like family, always smiling warmly, explaining clearly what needed to be done, and giving at least two options, sometimes more for treatments. He was always willing to set up a fee schedule for working families who couldn't afford to pay all at once, but who could pay monthly. His patients said he was a painless dentist, and they loved and respected him. They also looked forward to talking with him. After 35 years of working as a dentist, he earned the "Strathmore's Who's Who" Award. His dental accomplishments were very special.

From 1971,. Kiwanis became a large part of Andrew's life. He was inspired with the Kiwanis Objects and made himself known in Toms River, New Jersey (his residence of 35 years). Soon after 1971 he became known in all of New Jersey Kiwanis, culminating in being elected Governor of New Jersey Kiwanis. He then became known internationally as a Kiwanis International Trustee and committee chair of Youth Services, et cetera. Over the years he became a HERO to the youth he guided and to many of his peers. This special book will give you the details of his heroic actions and thoughts, which made him a very special person.

Introduction

Let me introduce you to the book: Dr. Andrew Batsis, Husband! Dentist! Kiwanian! Santa Claus? It has three parts, a prologue, an epilogue and appendices. Each of the three parts has a unique writing style. Part I is a transcription of a DVD printing what was said during the Memorial Tribute held in the Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Toms River, NJ. Part II, Personal Reflections, introduces each chapter with a question most often. Exceptions are "Aunt Bess Remembers" and PETS. Part Ill, Kiwanis, uses subtitles before each chapter. The Table of Contents list the speakers and two dances from Part I, lists all the questions and food recipes found in the text of Part II, and lists all the subtitles and letter contributors in Part Ill. More dance music is found in appendix F (music list) and more food recipes are found in Appendix B.

The prologue is the only page that is written as a dialogue within a dramatic narrative. The epilogue is the only page written in verse and describing Dr. Andrew Batsis from the time he was an altar boy to the date of his passing. The epilogue leads the reader back to the prologue. Also the personal reflections chapter: What do I remember of April 20, 2005? leads the reader to the prologue. The table of contents list the glossary, which includes the definition (or description) of Greek words, pastries, and music. Greek culture is intertwined in Parts I and II. Americana is intertwined in Parts II and Ill.

It is the intent of the author that the proceeds of the sales of this book be given to the New Jersey Kiwanis Foundation for their program, Young Children, Priority One. Dr. Andrew Batsis was actively supportive of this program at the time of his passing.

Prologue

Kathi: "It's 6 o'clock, And. Time to eat." No response ... Andy's asleep seated in front of the television. Kathi nudges him-no response. She listens for breathing, feels his neck, and phones 911

Agent: "What is the nature of the emergency?"

Kathi: "I can't wake my husband, his neck is warm, but I can't hear him breathing."

Agent: "Where are you located?"

Kathi: "2 Glenwood Road, Toms River, corner of Route 166."

Agent: "Can you do CPR?"

Kathi: "No."

Agent: "I'll talk you through CPR while the paramedics come. Is he on the floor?"

Kathi: "No."

Agent: "You need to place him on the floor."

Kathi: "He's too heavy."

Agent: "Is there someone in the house that can help you?"

Kathi: "No, but I can get the neighbors," walking out the door.

Agent: "What's their telephone number?"

Kathi: "It's faster I go over there than take time to look up their number," knocking on the door ... "Betty."

Betty: "Yes, Kathi."

Kathi: "I need Bernie to help me with Andy in the office."

Bernie: "What's the matter?"

A paramedic arrives and heads toward 4 Glenwood Road.

Kathi to paramedic: "No. This way." They follow her into the home office. Kathi into cell phone: "The paramedic's arrived. Thanks for your help."

The paramedic gets Andy on the floor and begins CPR. Betty and Bernie sit in the waiting room when more paramedics and a police officer arrive. He asks Kathi questions while the three paramedics work on resuscitating Andy.

From the death certificate: The immediate cause of death a. Acute Myocardial Infarction; Due to ( or as a consequence of) b. Diabetes Milletus; Due to ( or as a consequence of) c. Obesity. Date of death: April 20, 2005. Time of death: 6:02 pm.

How did I meet Andy?

It was Saturday, February 9, 1964 at the Queen of Hearts Ball that the Somerville Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church choir sponsored. If it wasn't for Andra Limberakis, a distant cousin, I wouldn't have been there. A member of the church choir, Andra, invited me to her residence so I could attend the dance, stay overnight in Somerville and go home to Concord MA on Sunday after church.

There was a Greek dance band and an American dance band that alternated playing their music. More guests danced the Greek tsamikos and kalamatianos than the American social dances and the Greek sirtaki. After the first Greek dance session, I noticed 3 young men approaching me and Andra and Cynthia. George Cholaki introduced himself, Andy Batsis and Jim. I introduced myself, Andra and Cynthia. The American band started playing, and Andy asked me to waltz with him. I accepted with pleasure.

He held me firmly and gently. Andy weighed about 300 pounds at 5' 9" so I couldn't get too close to him. I weighed 120 pounds at 5' 3 3/4". With 2" heels for added height on my part, we were dancing face to face. He asked me, "What do you think of the Beatles?" A country girl by birth, I asked, "What beetles?" (The Japanese beetles had destroyed one of our rose bushes.) He explained and we had a good laugh.

Before the end of the dance, I learned that Andy was admitted early to Tufts University in Boston for a career in dentistry from Monmouth College in West Long Branch, New Jersey. I told him I was a sophomore at Lesley College, 29 Everett Street, Cambridge, MA and that I commuted by train. Andy entered my home address and telephone number in his little black book which I never saw after February 9th 1964.

What happened at the Lesley College sponsored Winter Carnival Ball?

It might be better to ask what happened the evening of the Winter Carnival Ball. I was so happy Andy was taking me to the Ball that I wanted to look my best. My hair was short and Andy liked it that way. He liked short dresses so I bought a pastel pink and blue textured, fitted dress with spaghetti straps and a vest of the same fabric that buttoned up the back. The hem was one inch above my knees. I also bought a pair of formal, black overshoes (boots that fit over shoes; in my case, over high-heeled shoes) with black fur around the ankles. Andy always dressed impeccably. I don't remember which suit he wore that evening because I was captivated by his clear blue eyes.

That evening there were four inches of snow on the ground. It started snowing lightly. Andy pinned a beautiful pink corsage over my heart. Then we drove into Boston. It took some time to find a parking space near the Sheraton in Copley Square. Once parked, Andy started talking about his future. Tufts College of Dentistry was very difficult. If he failed, he would go home to New Jersey. His loving parents were in the restaurant business and he could work there while he tried to enroll in the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry. Whatever life style was open to him, he wanted to be a success. Would I wait for him? Yes, I wanted to be with him whether he became a dentist or a restauranteur. We kissed. The snowflakes were still falling. Need I say the kiss was long and the hug was as cuddly as possible in the front seat of a Lincoln Town car?

We walked to the Sheraton Plaza. Inside, we looked for a marquis directing us to the Ball. We asked at the desk since we didn't see Lesley College or Winter Carnival written on it. Come to find out, we were at the wrong Sheraton. The one we wanted was the Sheraton Commander in Cambridge. By the time we walked back to the car and drove to Harvard Square, parked the car and walked to the Sheraton, it was late. At the coat check desk, I introduced Andy to the Dean of Lesley College, Dolores G. LaCaro. She was leaving because the homecoming queen was already crowned. As I took off my overshoes, I spied black rings around my ankles: the melting snow released the fur dye which bled around my ankles. I excused myself and went to the Ladies' Room. As I was scrubbing my ankles clean, the beautiful corsage came apart. I pinned the corsage back in its place, took a final look in the mirror, then went to get Andy who was waiting patiently for me. We waltzed our first dance to the last dance of the evening. I think that evening's first dance/last dance may have been the beginning of a tradition.

In September of 2009, Cousin Carol Peterson wrote this remembrance: My husband and I enjoyed sharing a table with Kathi and Andy at family weddings. While Kathi is a natural and enthusiastic dancer, the same could not be said for Andy. However, he would dance with Kathi once at each affair. By the way, he really could dance but just didn't enjoy it. Shortly after their dance, Andy would make the announcement, "The bus for Toms River is now leaving." As soon as we heard the announcement, we said our goodbyes.

Did We Like To Travel?

Yes. From June 1967 to June 1968 we traveled to three of the four corners of the continental United States. When I finished my last Simmons College course in July of 1967, Andy drove from Montclair to Boston to get me so we could visit my parents in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. They were running the Paramount Restaurant (a family restaurant- no liquor) for my great aunt Koula because my great uncle Peter deceased at our wedding June 101h and she was unable to manage the restaurant by herself. I didn't know it at the time of our visit that it would be the last time Andy and I would see great aunt Koula. We stayed for the weekend. I hadn't packed my beach attire so we didn't swim in the ocean. We walked the beach and rode the rides: I liked the Tilt-a-Whirl, and Andy liked the bumper cars. There was no roller coaster in Old Orchard Beach.

In August, on our delayed honeymoon, we flew to Las Vegas, Nevada and to California, where we visited our best man (koumbaro) George Cholaki. Then we flew to San Francisco to complete our 10-day honeymoon (pages 60-63).

During the 1968 school Spring break, we drove down the east coast with Dr. Sandy Termotto and his wife, Carmel. We stayed 5 days in a cabin on the beach rather than in a hotel. We enjoyed one another's company, swimming in the ocean, basking in the sun, and fine dining. Not realizing that the Florida sun rays were stronger than those in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maine, I suffered mild symptoms of sun poisoning. Andy took care of me and the symptoms disappeared the next day. On the return trip, we packed sandwiches to eat in the car so we could drive straight home, just stopping for gas.

We traveled with cousin Pete and Carol Peterson also. It was a sunny day when we traveled to Pea Patch Island, Delaware. We drove to Finns Point, New Jersey, then rode on the ferry to the historic island. Pete, wearing a short-sleeved peach shirt and long black pants, was a history buff who enjoyed historic sites. Carol, wearing a yellow tank top (outerwear similar to a broad-strapped camisole) and yellow and green-checkered long pants, was happy to come: history or no history. Andy, wearing a short-sleeved ecru T-shirt with a tab front and yellow and green vertically striped shorts, brought the video camera. I was wearing a white scarf around my head (ear to ear), a white collared, long-sleeved, light cotton, navy blue short dress (about 4 inches above my knees). It had small vertical pleats in front with thin white trim on the pleats and around the skirt hem. I wore my navy blue shoes and navy blue nylon stockings. (The bugs couldn't get me.)

The small island, having a patch of pea plants growing on it due to a 1700's ship spill, was strategically located in the Delaware River, near the Delaware Bay entrance. In the early 1800's Pea Patch Island had naturally grown large enough so that the State of Delaware constructed a wooden fort there. In 1859 the wooden structure was replaced with brick and concrete. It was this Fort Delaware that cousin Pete was eager to visit. "During the American Civil War, Fort Delaware was used by the Union as a camp for Confederate prisoners, in particular ones captured at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg." (Source: Wikipedia "Pea Patch Island" - last modified 17 January 2010). Andy and Carol enjoyed basking in the sun and talking while Pete and I explored the damp and dismal rooms and corridors of the fort. Andy called us "history spelunkers." Strictly speaking, spelunkers are cave explorers. In my opinion the soldiers could have been living in a complex of man-made caves, as the cool atmosphere of the fort resembled the same atmosphere of natural caves. My only disappointment was that I didn't see any pea plants on the island.

On a chilly, drizzly day Pete persuaded us to explore Bucks County, Pennsylvania, located just west of Mercer County, New Jersey and north of Philadelphia. He hoped to drive through an historic covered bridge and visit Washington Crossing Historic Park. I remember driving around, seeing a covered bridge, but not reaching the park. Carol remembers stopping at a large flea market where she and Andy stayed in the car while Pete and I enthusiastically “explored" the vendors' goods. We both remember ending our trip in New Hope, "a borough of many restaurants, antique shops, art galleries, and the Bucks County Playhouse. Known as Coryell's Ferry first, a large fire burned down several mills in the area and their reconstruction was considered "new hope" for the area" thus, Coryell's Ferry was renamed New Hope. (Source: Wikipedia "New Hope, Pennsylvania" - last modified on 22 November 2010) We dined in a crowded restaurant overlooking the canal that ran through the town. Andy had us laughing as we were trying to identify the different shelled nuts in a bowl on our table. We recognized the walnuts and almonds. I thought the big ones were Brazil nuts. Pete disagreed. Finally, Andy stated, "They're mixed nuts and so are we."

It was Andy's idea to fly to Las Vegas, Nevada in December of 1971. Carol was quite pregnant with their first child, Anne Martha, who was born on April 25, 1972. We stayed at the Stardust Hotel for one week. One evening we dined at Caesar's Palace. Carol was impressed with the Romanesque fountains. Pete was impressed with the food as were Andy and I when we dined there on our honeymoon in 1967. One afternoon Carol and I went to the hairdressers in the hotel. We had our hair shampooed, set and styled Las Vegas-style. I thought I looked like a Greek goddess. Carol thought our new hairdo's made us look like floozies and remembers Andy had difficulty in recognizing us, thinking we were hookers. In fact, when the four of us were waiting in line for a dinner show starring Wayne Newton and the Fifth Dimension, Andy looked behind himself, saw my back, and asked, "Where's Kathi?" I turned around and smiled. I guessed Andy wasn't looking for a Greek goddess -just me. The show was exhilarating, the room was crowded, the dinner was not memorable, and I spilled a partial bottle of wine on Pete accidentally, while gesturing with my hands. The next time Andy and I came to Las Vegas was many years later at a Kiwanis Convention.

Other than attending Kiwanis and family events, Andy and I drove to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Labor Day weekend, 1971. There we visited an Amish farm where we were amazed at their simple lifestyle: no phones, no cars, no cameras, no electricity, and no tractors. They used horses for transportation and to farm the land, and sheep from which to gather wool. They wore plain and durable clothes and "believed that the taking of photographs where someone is recognizable is forbidden by the Biblical prohibition against making any 'graven image'." (Source: Google search for Lancaster County, PA "The Amish and the Plain People of Lancaster County, PA") Andy did not bring his camera.

Back at the motel, we were sitting around the pool reading, when I heard Greek dance music. I excused myself and found a group of adults dancing the Greek tsamikos in a 16-step pattern instead of the popular, simple .12-step pattern that I knew. This was my first exposure to international folk dancing. As soon as the leader realized I had a Greek heritage, he changed the dance music and taught non-Greek dances, including the Israeli dances, Hineh Ma Tov and Mayim. The remainder of the weekend was uneventful and relaxing -just right before returning to work in New Jersey.

Was There Something Andy Didn't Like About Me?

Yes. There were days when the two of us ate lunch and/or supper in the den. This way Andy didn't miss the television shows of interest to him. He was interested in news and in sports. Some weekly television shows he enjoyed were "All in the Family", the "Bill Cosby Show", Hogan's Heroes", "Ironsides", the "Jeffersons", "MASH", "Paper Chase'.', and "Pickett Fences"

It was cozy eating in the den. Andy used the top of a metal filing cabinet ( on his right) to lay down his plate and large plastic glass when necessary. I used the coffee table in front of the sofa where I sat.

When I heard Andy call me by my formal name, "Katherine?" I knew I did something wrong or I didn't do something I was supposed to do. Andy expected me to remember to fill his large plastic glass with water at each mealtime. When I asked, "What's wrong?" he answered, "Where's my water?" "I forgot. I'll get it now", I responded. "What am I going to do to help you remember?" "All you can do is love me!" And he did.

Above Andy's recliner is a petit point wall hanging depicting a couple sitting on a green wooden bench. The sentence below, "There' nothing we can't solve together", is true. The situation was resolved when I put a gallon of water on the floor next to the metal filing cabinet. Then Andy could help himself.

Interclubs

In the 1970's and 1980's interclubs were quite popular with the Toms River Kiwanis members. A minimum of four members (usually there were more) would arrange to visit another Kiwanis club in the division (Ocean County) or the district (New Jersey) and at least one time Andy and Marty Abramson and two other members interclubbed in Canada. They flew in a private plane and joined the Montreal (Quebec) Kiwanis club at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel for lunch and sang O Canada and saluted the Canadian flag. They enjoyed great camaraderie and learned about the Canadian programs, projects, fund-raisers, and their sponsored youth groups. They came home to Toms River the same day, having earned points for attending the other Kiwanis club. There was excitement, recognition, and friendly competition inter-clubbing then. The Toms River Kiwanis banner was heavily laden with awards for programs, projects, fund- raisers, Key Club sponsorship, Circle K sponsorship, inter-clubs, et cetera.

Don Marinos, past president of the Toms River Club, remembers good times inter-clubbing with Andy and Marty. Joel Perlmutter, Dr. Fields, Dr. Mickiewitz, and Marty owned and flew private airplanes. The inter-club chairman phoned ahead to make arrangements with the host club inter-club chairman to meet the Toms River members at the airport and take them to the meeting and lodgings to stay for 2 or 3 days. Don remembers inter-clubbing in Pinehurst, SC and Hilton Head, SC, a number of clubs in PA and at least one club in NY. Interclubbing with Ocean County and other New Jersey Kiwanis Clubs involved earning more points because the host clubs would visit the Toms River Club to take their bell home. This is what happened: At the host meeting, their president would adjourn the meeting by striking the club's bell with the gavel. Andy would go up in front of the bell and speak to the president, diverting his attention away from the bell. Don and Marty (or Pete Giovine, another member of the Kiwanis Club of Toms River) would make their way to the podium and nonchalantly hide the bell under one of their jackets. When the president of the host club couldn't find the bell, Andy invited their members to inter-club with Toms River where they would find it.

Andy, President Of The Toms River Kiwanis Club

In 1974-75 Andy became president of the Toms River Kiwanis Club. The installation night was a formal event. Jack Quinter and his wife Evelyn were there as Jack was expected to retire the present officers, board of trustees and install the new officers and board members. Jack described each position and listed the responsibilities of each position before installing the members and congratulating them. The president was the last to be installed, at which time he was prepared to make a statement as to his goals for the club. Andy used some humor as well. Kathi was very proud of Andy!!

Up until then Andy brought more members into the Kiwanis club of Toms River than any other Kiwanian. Noting that Southern Regional High School should have a Key Club and realizing that it was far from Toms River, he decided that new Kiwanis clubs should be established in Berkley Township or Barnegat and on Long Beach Island. Twenty-five members were needed to charter a new club. With Andy's guidance three clubs were chartered. The club on Long Beach Island (NJ) sponsored a Key Club at Southern Regional High School and is still a vibrant club. Andy visited often and when Kathi was invited, Kathi enjoyed herself. She learned about fund raising projects of the Long Beach Island Kiwanis Club and their service programs because, when Andy was requested to speak, he praised the club for their projects and programs. The Long Beach Island Club members beamed. The Leisure Village Club in Lakewood (NJ) was chartered in 1975 and the members are still serving their community. The Leisure Village West Club, in Manchester, New Jersey, disbanded as they couldn't keep their membership of 25 members. The remaining Kiwanians were invited to attend the Toms River club.

The Key of Honor

Andy received the key of honor (the highest award of Key Club International) July 10th 1996 at 55 years of age. The certificate reads as follows:

Key of Honor

Presented to

Dr. Andrew Batsis

For personifying the Objects of Key Club International through loyal and uncompromised devotion to the highest principles of service to youth.

It is dated and signed by Key Club International President, Matt Drishill. In order to receive this prestigious award, Andy had to be nominated formally. Included in his nomination binder was a biographical sketch which follows (note Andy was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Bradley Beach, NJ. When he was attending college, the family moved to Interlaken, New Jersey).

Biographical Sketch of Dr. Andrew Batsis Nominee for Key of Honor 1995

Born and raised in Interlaken, New Jersey, Dr. Batsis graduated from Asbury Park High School in June of 1959. He attended Monmouth College, in N.J., where he graduated with a B.S. in Biology in 1966. Dr. Batsis then attended the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey where he received his D.MD. in June of 1969. July 1969 through June 1970, Dr. Batsis did his Internship and Residency as a Dentist at Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, N.J. He then went on to set up his private practice in his home in Toms River, N.J. which he still maintains today.

Dr. Batsis is a member of the American Dental Association, the New Jersey Dental Association, the Monmouth-Ocean County Dental Society and is a member of the staff at Kimball Medical Center.

In June of 1967 Dr. Batsis married Kathi who throughout the years has been his strongest supporter in all his endeavors. Be they personal, professional or Kiwanis, she has always been his silent partner. Throughout the world of Key Club International she is known for her hugs and caring support of the many Key Clubbers whose lives they have touched.

In 1970 when Dr. Batsis moved to Toms River not only did he set up his practice but immediately became involved in the community. In addition to his professional affiliations he has also been involved as a member of the Toms River - Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, coordinator of the YMCA new building fund drive, a co-founder of the Service Club Council of New Jersey and a member of the Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church.

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