Eliades has Left Mark on John Tyler
By Caitlin Davis
Jul 13, 2012, 14:09
The name of Homer Eliades, Esquire, will forever be a part of John Tyler Community College.
The JTCC Midlothian campus now has a building named Eliades Hall.
Before expressing his sentiments about the building that bears his name, Eliades recalled the day of commencement at JTCC. He said his son, Peter, was insistent that they attend, telling a little white lie that Homer Eliades would be receiving a certificate.
“My son kept insisting I needed to be there, and I said, ‘well I get those things all the time,’ then he said, ‘well Dad you need to be there,’” Homer Eliades said.
Homer Eliades recalled the day, saying he was surprised he had to wear his robe and sit on the podium during the graduation, not understanding all the pageantry just to receive a certificate.
When they announced that the building was named after him, he got up to the microphone, and asked, “Well have you ever seen a lawyer who is speechless?”
Now, almost two months later, Eliades is still close to speechless and still surprised that a building is named after him because he is one thing most building namesakes are not.
“I thought they named buildings after people who have died, I thought ‘Do they know something I don’t know?” Eliades said.
Dr. Marshall Smith, President of John Tyler Community College, said Eliades has continued to be a valuable resource for the college and for the community.
“He’s never failed to respond when called upon to do whatever he can do to further the institution,” Smith said.
Smith also noted Eliades has held a long standing commitment to continuing education in Hopewell and the surrounding areas.
“He participated in all activities in getting the college started, from the gift of the land, to the selection of the first president, to the staff to get the institution off the ground,” Smith said.
Involvement in the community college system dates back to the 1960s for Eliades.
He helped to open Hopewell College in 1959. The college began by offering night classes in what is now the Hopewell Lofts building on City Point Road.
Classes began at 7 p.m. and went until 8:40 p.m Monday through Friday.
“We thought the key to Hopewell’s success was technical education so people could run the plants, which had become very sophisticated. That was our goal,” Eliades said.
But the subjects taught were broad. Some of the courses offered were English 101, Biology 101, Economics 201, Music 101 and History 101. Eliades said all classes were taught by people who had a Master’s Degree or PhD.
The Board of Trustees for Hopewell College included Donald Stokes, Philip Robbins, James Enochs, Jr., Plato Eliades, Richard Coulter and Robert Doutt.
In 1966, Hopewell College became part of the Virginia Community College System. Smith said Eliades became part of the board to get JTCC up and running and still serves on the Foundation Board of JTCC.
“I think he has seen community college as a place for people to change their lives,” Smith said.
“I am also extremely pleased in what we’ve done to take care of young people who have dropped out, older people who have worked getting the kids all grown and say ‘I need to do something other than stay at home and wash dishes all day,’” Eliades said.
Smith said Eliades is a successful attorney who is very deserving of the award. He said he admires Eliades’s unique way of delivering his opinions.
“He is a successful attorney, a great fund of common sense, he is practical and straightforward, especially given the pace of life today, he is to the point, which I appreciate,” Smith said.
Eliades praised Smith, saying the community was fortunate to have him as President at JTCC.
“We are fortunate that we have Dr. Smith, who has led us to where we are today. I am amazed at how large we have become,” Eliades said.
Eliades is confident JTCC will only continue to grow.
“I think there will be continuous growth, the legacy is here to stay. It’s something that has taken a hold now,” Eliades said.
Eliades Hall is home to general academic classes, faculty offices and visual and performing arts programs. Smith said Homer Eliades and his family will be able to enjoy the building for years to come. As he finished, Smith said one last parting word about the man to whom the building pays tribute.