One family’s car trouble changes another family’s fortune forever
by Johanna Droubay
On a summer day in 1956, an American car rolled into the heart of Kavala, a Greek port city that crawls up the hills to the north and stretches southward into the blue Aegean Sea. Although nicknamed the Monte Carlo of Greece, Kavala in those days was nearly destitute and still licking the wounds of a civil war. “It was a miserable place to be,” says Gus Colessides (’70), who was eight years old that summer.
Gus’s 15-year-old brother, Nick, was downtown doing nothing that day when a man running the fruit kiosk called to him in Greek, “You speak English! See what these people want.”
Nick looked up and saw three Americans inspecting the kiosk’s extra-large peaches. Nick approached them—a Utah State professor, his wife, and her widowed sister—and they started talking. They said their car had a broken cotter pin and could not be driven in reverse.
A local garage could do the repairs, but it was closed for the weekend. In the meantime, Nick told the Americans he would be their tour guide. “Driving forwards only,” Nick says, “we would see the sites.”
He took them to a water polo game, and the next day they traced the life of the Apostle Paul through the ancient city of Philippi. On Monday, the car was fixed and the Americans left. The sister, Beula Hunt, sent Nick a Christmas card later that year, and they continued to stay in touch through letters. One of the letters Nick received from Beula would change his life.
“Would you like to come and study in the United States?” she wrote to Nick when he was 18 and finishing high school.
Nick’s brother Gus remembers when the family got the news. “The reaction was, ‘Thank God for this lady,’” he says. “She was giving him an opportunity to go to the promised land.”
Beula and her daughter, Peggy, opened their home to Nick. “They were the most wonderful people in the world,” Nick says. “They made me feel not like an outsider but like an integral, included part of the family.” With the Hunt family’s support, Nick went on to earn a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a law degree from the University of Utah.
Years later, Nick paid their good deed forward, sponsoring his brother Gus’s journey to Utah and his education at Westminster, where Gus eventually met his wife, Barbara (’74). In 2018, Gus and Barbara established the Mrs. Arden Hunt–Nick J. Colessides Endowed Scholarship at Westminster College.
“Without Mrs. Hunt, my brother would not be here. And without my brother, I wouldn’t be here myself,” Gus says.
The word “philanthropy,” Gus and Barbara noted in their scholarship gift agreement, comes from the Greek words philoand anthropos, meaning “love of mankind.” Their scholarship is an expression of love, a toast to chance, a nod to the past, and a belief in a better future.
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.