WILSON, N.C. — August 19, 2016 — The twelfth annual Wilson-Barton Partnership Leadership Award Dinner honoring Lee Socrates Gliarmis will be held on Thursday, Sept. 22, on the campus of Barton College. The event, to be held in the Kennedy Recreation and Intramural Center in Wilson Gymnasium, will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at $75 per person and may be reserved by calling Frances Belcher at 252-399-6357. Sponsorship opportunities are available and begin at $750 for a table of eight. Advance reservations are required, and the deadline for reserving seats is Thursday, Sept. 8, at 5 p.m. As a salute to Gliarmis, a portion of each ticket purchased will support the “2016 Wilson-Barton Scholarship Honoring Lee Socrates Gliarmis,” which will be awarded to a number of students in the Barton College School of Business.
Honoring Lee Socrates Gliarmis —
Lee Socrates Gliarmis, a lifelong resident of Wilson, was born in 1927 to Socrates “Dick” and Hariklea Ladas Gliarmis. Both natives of Greece, his father served as an army captain and assisted in training the Greek-American unit during WWI duty in France. Lee Gliarmis was the younger of their two children. Richard Gliarmis, the oldest, served in WWII and was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. He is buried in the American Cemetery in Margraten, Holland. Gliarmis graduated from Charles L. Coon High School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, participating in numerous sports throughout his high school and college years.
Gliarmis owns Dick’s Hotdog Stand, which was established in 1921 by his father. Dick’s, believed to be the oldest continuously operating family-owned restaurant in North Carolina, is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year. While Gliarmis spent much of his youth working in the restaurant alongside his dad and brother, his passion was sports, and his dream was to follow his mentor, Leon Brogden, into the coaching profession. In fact, Gliarmis had a job offer in hand and was ready to move to Connecticut for his first coaching job right after graduation. But as we all know, life throws us many curves. The death of his brother in 1944 and then his father in 1950, altered his path, bringing him back to Wilson after graduation to care for his mother and to run the family restaurant. Gliarmis still works and greets customers most days, but he has entrusted the majority of the management and day-to-day operation to his son, Socrates, and his daughter, Chrisanne. Married for 60 years to Janie Athanas Gliarmis, Gliarmis lovingly describes Janie as a devoted wife who has put up with his many long hours of work and volunteering. She had her hands full while managing a busy home and family of four children. Three of the four still reside in Wilson: Chrisanne; Soc and his wife, Karen; and Lee and his wife, Ginger. Ricki Gliarmis Barger and her husband, Ray, reside in Wilkesboro. Janie and Lee Gliarmis have also been blessed with seven grandchildren, including Frank (and his wife, Brittany) and Christopher Barger, Nicholas, Zachary, John, Walker, and Sallie Gliarmis. Opportunities to have the entire crew of 17 together are rare, but these occasions are among Lee and Janie’s greatest joys.
His love of sports originated, oddly enough, while Gliarmis was a young boy working at the hotdog stand. The location at West Nash and Pearson was a hotbed of activity, and many semi-pro and Barton/Atlantic Christian athletes participated in football, baseball, and boxing in facilities located directly behind the restaurant. His dad was an avid sports enthusiast, and he began the tradition of covering the walls at Dick’s with sports memorabilia, which creates a big part of the restaurant’s charm still today. When he wasn’t working, Gliarmis was a three-sport athlete at Charles L. Coon where he played for Leon Brogden and went on to participate in soccer, basketball, and baseball while at UNC-CH. Gliarmis was also a member of the infamous Carolina Clowns traveling basketball team, which included the likes of football great Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice.
The Physical Education major turned restaurateur never realized his dream of a coaching profession, but he channeled his passion by becoming a tireless supporter of community and youth athletics for more than 65 years … Connecticut’s loss; Wilson’s gain. A founding member of the Wilson Hot Stove League, Gliarmis was a major force behind the effort to renovate Fleming Stadium and establish the N.C. Baseball Museum in 2003. He served as a volunteer coach for Wilson Parks and Recreation Department teams for four decades and has been a booster of Fike High School Athletics since the school opened in 1958.
While Gliarmis is a proud UNC Tarheel, he has always been a staunch supporter of Barton College. He was named an Honorary Alumnus in 2007. Gliarmis also partnered with the Wilson Chamber of Commerce in the 1960s to organize College Appreciation Week, a multi-day event that recognized the College’s contributions to the community. The event, which included tributes by several nationally renowned dignitaries, was called “the greatest honor ever bestowed on the College” by Dr. Arthur D. Wenger, then president of the College. Gliarmis also had the pleasure of employing numerous Barton students and athletes over the years, several of whom began dating while working at Dick’s and later married.
Gliarmis has served as president and longtime board member of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame, and he was honored with induction into the Hall in 2014. He was awarded the Order of the Longleaf Pine by Governor James Hunt in 1996, and he was recognized by the Frederick E. Turnage Chapter of the American Red Cross in its Heroes Campaign in 2013. Perhaps his most precious recognition also came in 2013 when the playground at Wells Elementary School, the place he spent many years coaching hundreds of Wilson’s young people, was named in his honor.
For Lee Gliarmis, it has never been about the honors or the accolades. It has only been about his family and the opportunities he has had to make his community a better place. Knowing that this recognition is a celebration of the partnership between Barton College and the Wilson community, Gliarmis is appreciative that he has had the honor of serving both.