There’s a simple anonymous quote that says plenty: “We can talk about making a difference or we can make a difference.”
Here in the Gate City, I believe that those who were fortunate enough to know the late Jimmy Stellos would agree that he not only wrote out a lot of checks, but he touched many lives with his resources and generosity. He did it quietly and without drawing attention himself.
I grew up in the Greek Orthodox community where Mr. Stellos was highly regarded, and my parents often told us of his humble beginnings, his rise as a self-made businessman (electrical contractor), his pride about his religion and culture and being one who gave back to others.
Like the late computer pioneer, An Wang, once said, “My theme for philanthropy is the same approach I used with technology. To find a need and fill it.”
And that is what Jimmy Stellos appeared to do and often, “find a need and fill it.”
He was smart, funny, popular and never a bragger about all the good deeds he performed. He once joked to me, “You can’t take it with you, Joan.” And how right he was.
I often saw him in church neatly attired and with his glamorous wife, Sandi, and family by his side, and he still looked robust at age 87. I was shocked to learn of his passing, and many Nashuans share in this enormous loss.
Former Nashua mayor Donnalee Lozeau has spoken often about her friend Jimmy Stellos and the contributions he made over the years that have helped shape the Gate City into a fine community.
When he was chosen as the recipient of the “Red” Hayes Award at the 28th Scholar/Athlete Awards Banquet in 2015, he was cited for his longtime community support. Lozeau and then-governor Maggie Hassan were present to congratulate him.
“When you think about Nashua, you think about Jimmy as someone who has helped the city become what it is,” remarked Lozeau. “Jim Stellos gives a lot of his time and his contributions, both with his family and with his business. He’s one of the people you can always count on. He’s also a good mentor to other people who want to give back.”
Most residents know about perhaps his largest legacy — the state-of-the-art sports arena venue that bears his name, Stellos Stadium.
Mr. Stellos and his family were the major financial contributors in a hefty $500,000 pledge to the construction of the stadium. And it’s a beauty that was built in 2000 and designed by architects Lavallee/Brensinger for football, field hockey, lacrosse and soccer games. More than 2,000 athletes in teams from Nashua High School North, Nashua High School South and Bishop Guertin High School, as well as many local youth athletic organizations, use the stadium.
Another good deed Mr. Stellos made happen was paying to have the historic City Hall bell returned to its original site at 100 Main St. in 2008. It would mark the 1843 landmark and allow passersby to see and touch the gigantic, 2,000-pound bell. The gesture was quite generous, to the tune of some $40,000. Eventually, the bell was moved again and this time to the current City Hall Plaza to mark its restoration project.
He was proud to donate to local organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, and to help those down on their luck.
We don’t see too many humble folks like Jimmy Stellos these days. He loved his city, church and the fine people who define the Gate City.
He was always able to find a need and fill it. And Nashua is luckier for that.