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Obituary: Dr. C.N. ‘Gus’ Papadopoulos

Thursday, August 09, 2007

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College alumnus, former trustee and longtime supporter Dr. C.N. "Gus" Papadopoulos died Thursday, Aug. 2, while at his vacation home in the Cayman Islands.  He was 76 years old.

Dr. Papadopoulos' support of Wofford spanned all of the years since his graduation in 1954 and included gifts for capital improvements, scholarships and more.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Houston, Texas, where Papadopoulos made his home.  Visitation will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at the George H. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home in Houston.  Full details are available from the Houston Chronicle at ttp://www.legacy.com/houstonchronicle/DeathNotices.asp.

“Gus was a transformative figure in the history of the college,” says Wofford President Benjamin B. Dunlap.  “No greater investment of good will was ever shown by this college than when Dean Frank Logan and others welcomed Gus to Wofford nearly 60 years ago.  Gus was responsible for more significant developments at Wofford than I can easily recite, but prominent among them are our annual faculty-staff retreats, campus-wide computerization, the Papadopoulos Room facility for entertainment of alumni and other campus visitors, enhanced faculty compensation, the new science building, and a beautification of the campus landscape.  There are many more programs and projects bearing the indelible imprint of Gus Papadopoulos, assuring that he will never be forgotten by the college he so loved.”

Constantinos N. Papadopoulos was born in 1931 in Kavala, Greece.  Growing up through the turbulent decade of World War II and the Greek Civil War, “Gus” arrived in Spartanburg and entered Wofford College in 1951.  In those early days, his English was limited, but he learned quickly enough to graduate in three years and win the Howard Carlisle Award for public speaking his senior year.  He also was elected president of the pre-medical society.

After graduation from Wofford in 1954, Papadopoulos and his brother bought a second-hand automobile and toured the United States looking for the best growth areas.  They settled on Texas, and Gus entered medical school at Baylor College of Medicine.  As a young physician, he became a partner in the Pasadena, Texas, Anesthesiology Group and worked with Dr. Michael DeBakey in the development of revolutionary anesthesiology techniques for open heart and vascular transplant surgery.

In 1963, after completing his medical training at Baylor and its affiliated hospitals, Papadopoulos married his college sweetheart, the former Maria W. Vaseliades of Spartanburg, a Converse College graduate.  He established his medical practice in Pasadena, Texas, which grew over the next decade to more than a dozen anesthesiologists.

Even while practicing medicine, Papadopoulos spent nights and weekends learning all he could about real estate development.  In 1957, he organized his first limited partnership to construct a 24-unit apartment house.  By 1973, the construction business demanded most of his time, and he went on to head Papadopoulos and Associates, a well-known Houston financial and development company.  He later became president and majority stockholder of Transworld Construction Corp., specializing in the construction of apartment complexes.  He also was president of Delta Troy Inc., organized for the maintenance of apartment complexes.

Papadopoulos showed his generosity to Wofford College throughout the years after his graduation.  He honored his father with the establishment of the Neofytos Papadopoulos Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides assistance to deserving students from Greece.  He also has provided resources for Wofford faculty and staff community-building retreats.  His large gift in 1985 for the Neofytos D. Papadopoulos Building helped make possible the creation of Wofford’s new “front door” on Spartanburg’s North Church Street.

With the announcement in 1991 of a new $140,000 commitment to the Campaign for Wofford: An Investment in People, Papadopoulos became the first alumni member of The Old Main Society, a select group of $1 million lifetime donors to the college.

Papadopoulos served two full terms on the Wofford College Board of Trustees, from 1979 to 1991 and again from 1993 to 2005.  He was awarded an honorary degree in 1993.

In 2001, Papadopoulos and his wife gave a $750,000 gift to Baylor for its Biology of Inflammation Center.  The center’s goal is to determine the molecular mechanisms and causes of inflammation to identify novel treatments for inflammatory diseases.  Papadopoulos suffered from such a disease, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system.

Papadopoulos is survived by his wife and four children.