Kathy Patras Carvalho, a graduate student in the Woods College of Advancing Studies, with her late father, George Patras, in a photo from 2001.
Farewell to the Eagles' 'Number One Fan'
He never attended BC, but George Patras was as loyal as any alumnus
By Mark Sullivan
Boston College lost its "Number One Fan" when retired machine shop foreman George Patras of Medford died Nov. 8 at 79 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
As radio talk-shows have regular callers, BC Athletics had Mr. Patras. "He called me every single week," said Football Recruiting Assistant Nick Uhlenhopp. "He just wanted to talk football. He knew about recruiting, he knew names, he knew stats. He was very knowledgeable."
Athletic Association Secretary Stephanie O'Leary said she never actually met Mr. Patras in person, but after a dozen years of phone calls, she felt as if she'd known him all her life. "George used to call me every week," she said. "A little craggy voice would come on the line and he'd say, 'Stephanie! What did you think of the game last Saturday?'
"There wasn't anything better in George Patras' eyes than Boston College. He lived and breathed BC."
BC Football, in return, pronounced Mr. Patras its "No. 1 Fan," and presented him an award in 1995 recognizing his outstanding support. When the Eagles played in the Aloha Bowl four years ago, a giant postcard signed by the team arrived from Hawaii to wish him Happy New Year.
His chats on the telephone with BC Athletics staffers lifted his spirits during his prolonged illness, said his daughter, Kathy Carvalho, of Medford, a graduate student in the Woods College of Advancing Studies.
"They kept him going, talking to him on the phone," she said. "They gave him an ear. It meant a trillion."
Mr. Patras, born in Danversport to Greek immigrants, had dreamed of going to Boston College to study finance, said his daughter.
But World War II intervened. As a corporal with the 369th Army Field Artillery, Mr. Patras fought in the Asian Pacific Theater, was at Hiroshima, and was a military policeman in the occupation of Japan, earning decorations for his service, his daughter said.
After the war, he took up the machinist's trade to support his new wife, and went on to work 36 years at Crosby Valve & Gauge in Wrentham, where he was a foreman, she said.
He never made it to BC as he'd hoped. But his fervor for the Maroon and Gold remained a constant, even in his later years, when his illness confined him to a wheelchair.
"My dad came to the games rain or shine, sitting under the tree in Section K of the stadium," said Carvalho. "Of course, being his only child, I attended all of the games with him, and grew very fond of BC, as did my mom.
"Win or lose, he never gave up on the team. My husband, John, and I took Mom and Dad to see the team on many road trips. Dad played the BC fight songs as we drove by the opposition, yet in a way that even the opposition got a kick out of him and his loyalty to the team. The West Virginia football team was willing to take a picture with Dad sitting in his wheelchair wearing his BC sweatshirt and cap.
"He was also a big fan of basketball, and of the hockey team: He was going crazy when Krys Kolanos - a Greek - scored the winning goal [for the 2001 NCAA championship]. He almost jumped through the TV set.
"My dad suffered from Parkinson's disease for 20 years, yet it never stopped him from attending or listening to the game from home. He never missed a moment of any game, and died while listening to the BC alma mater on CD while in the hospital. He loved BC as I can't imagine anyone else doing.
"The last game he got to see was the recent victory against Notre Dame in South Bend where the Eagles pulled off a major upset in the closing moments.
"Dad looked at me when they won, and said, 'This is why I've always followed this team, and never give up on them; they know what it means to be a team; that is why I've always loved them, and will always cherish them forever. Boston College is the best as far as I'm concerned.'"
That she, his daughter, would receive her master's degree in Advancing Studies this coming spring from his beloved Boston College gave him great satisfaction, Carvalho said. "His dream came true to see me attend BC."
Besides his daughter and son-in-law, John, Mr. Patras leaves his wife, Eugenia, a brother, Charles, of Medford, and sisters Olympia Panagiotakopoulos of Medford and Esther Kappos of North Billerica; goddaughters Dianna Carbone and Keriann Loutraris, and nephews and nieces.
Contributions in Mr. Patras' memory may be made to the National Parkinson's Association, 1501 NW 9th Ave., Bob Hope Road, Miami, Fla., 33136-1494.