Rotary International President, Ed Cadman described a typical Rotarian as: “an ordinary man, doing extraordinary things in quite ways.”  There is no better example of that statement than Marshall Rotarian, Lt. Col. Tommy Athanas, who passed away September 24, 2001. 
Born in Folia, Turkey, baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church in the Jordan River, exiled along with his parent to America as a small child, he renounced his Greek citizenship and sent the following statement to the draft board:
                “Having lived in the United States all but three years of my life, my love for this, my adopted country, is equal to that of its citizens.  I wish to show my deep gratitude toward, and love for it by being allowed to serve in its armed forces.”
 
He enlisted and served as a Liaison Pilot in the 733 FA Bn and flew many missions including the invasion of Normandy, through the Battle of the Bulge.
He went to work for Monarch Tile in Marshall, originally as their pilot and then as VP of Operations.
I knew him as a Rotarian and friend; I knew nothing of his background. He was a quiet man and one who loved this country and Rotary.
 
His “claim to fame” as such, is that he is the only Marshall Rotarian to ever serve as a Rotary Foundation International Volunteer, which he did twice, once in Egypt in 1984, and second in Jordan in 1985, where he helped set up tile operations and train artisans in both countries.
 
We shall remember him when we Celebrate a Century of Changing Lives in Marshall and Beyond, less than a year from now, August 24, 2019.