MANCHESTER — In 1965, attorney Kimon S. Zachos was in Selma, Ala., at the height of the civil rights battle when Sheriff Jim Clark led a team of officers who used fire hoses, bullwhips and dogs on 600 peaceful marchers.
Zachos, now 83, was a White House Fellow as an assistant to Attorney General Nicholas D. Katzenbach in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. He says he and the other White House Fellows, 15 in all, just did their job.
“We were there to make sure the black people voted and weren’t interfered with or killed,” he said.
Attorney Bradford E. Cook, who has worked with Zachos for 42 years, said Zachos has never talked much about those days. He’s seen the photograph of Zachos carrying Katzenbach’s bags and, hanging on Zachos’ office wall, is a photograph of Zachos, a lifelong Republican, with Democrat LBJ.
Earlier this week, sitting in a glass-enclosed conference room in the offices of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green on the 17th floor of the Brady-Sullivan Plaza, Zachos said he has no regrets.
“I have a great life,” said Zachos, who has practiced law with Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green since 1957. Eventually, his practice focused on banking, estate planning and the corporate world. But education and the arts ultimately would play a major role in his life.
Forty-eight years ago, just back from Washington, Zachos was asked to join the board of trustees for the-then Currier Gallery of Art.
He quickly became a lover of the arts and eventually the driving force behind three fund-raising campaigns, totaling about $20 million, and the $20 million-plus expansion of the Currier Museum of Art, making it into a museum of international renown.
“I’ve never had more fun or more satisfaction in what we have been able to accomplish at the Currier,” said Zachos, who served as the museum’s president for 23 years and is still a trustee, 48 years since his first appointment. “It’s very unique and probably one of the strongest and best regional museums.”
“He’s an amazing, amazing man,” said Susan E. Strickler, the Currier’s director and CEO, whom Zachos hired 20 years ago.
Zachos is among a handful of New Hampshire residents to be honored with this year’s Granite State Legacy Awards, presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader and sponsored by Centrix Bank.
The Currier would not own the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House, which Strickler calls the jewel in the crown in the state of New Hampshire, were it not for Zachos. The Manchester attorney worked closely with Dr. Isadore Zimmerman and his wife Lucille, who wanted to be sure the home they cherished would be well cared for and always open to the public.
Strickler said Zachos also was instrumental in the $43 million bequest to the museum made by Henry Melville Fuller, a New York City stockbroker who was born in Manchester and a member of the museum’s board for more than 40 years.
Zachos also is clearly proud of his family, his “great wife” Anne (they’ve been married for 55 years) and three “very bright daughters.” Two were graduated from Harvard, and the third from Yale and later from medical school. One is a horticulturist and author, another a doctor and the third an architect. Zachos has five grandsons.
He grew up poor in Bennington; his family moved to Concord after his father’s death. He was graduated from Wesleyan University, where he met and became friends with fellow Legacy Award winner Attorney David Nixon, and then went on to New York University (NYU) law school on a Root-Tildon-Kern scholarship, Cook said.
One of Zachos’ first ventures into community service was working with and eventually becoming a trustee at New Hampshire College, which at the time was a “third floor walk-up on Hanover Street,” he said. Today, he is a “trustee emeritus” at what is now Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), which boasts the largest online course offering in all of New England.
“Kimon Zachos stands as a hero in SNHU’s story,” SNHU President Paul LeBlanc said. “He was there when the then New Hampshire College was on the precipice, helped in its recovery, and has seen SNHU grow to become the largest institution in New Hampshire. Throughout, he has been a source of guidance, wise counsel and leadership.”