Nicholas Constantinos Matalas
September 24, 1930 ~ August 16, 2019
Nicholas Constantinos Matalas, 88, of Vienna, VA passed away on Friday, August 16, 2019 at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He died from pneumonia caused by complications of Parkinson’s disease.
He leaves his wife of 61 years, Stella Matalas. His love and devotion to her was unmatched. He was also the beloved father of two daughters, Mary Matalas of Alexandria, VA and Denise Matalas of Alexandria, VA, as well as the cherished brother of Penny Manual of Silver Spring, MD and Elaine Michaels of Charlotte, NC. He is also survived by four nephews and one niece. He was preceded in death by his parents, Constantinos and Mary Matalas, and niece, Lainie Bain.
Born in the small town of Vandalia, IL, as the only son of his Greek immigrant parents, Nick was motivated at a young age to excel and seek knowledge. As a teenager, he ran a popcorn stand outside the town’s only theater and became a voracious newspaper reader. He followed the war closely and developed an intense interest in World War I. After attending a Major League Baseball game with his father in St. Louis, he fell in love with the game and eventually became a life-long Yankees fan.
By the time he graduated from high school, his popcorn stand paid off. He had save the $5,000 necessary for him to attend North Carolina State College. Upon graduating with his B.S. in civil engineering, he went to work for the U.S. Geological Survey in Raleigh, NC. and continued his studies at NC State. With his M.S. in sanitary engineering, he left North Carolina to pursue a doctorate at Harvard University. Immediately after receiving his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Harvard, he married his love, Stella, and they moved to northern Virginia.
Nick continued his career with the U.S. Geological Survey where he received numerous honors and commendations over the years for his research papers, presentations and thought leadership on stochastic hydrology. To Nick, his work was a passion. He enjoyed the research and was active in his professional community, serving as a visiting professor and sitting on Ph.D. dissertation committees for several universities, including the University of Arizona, Harvard University, Tufts University and the University of Virginia. After retiring in 1995, he continued to consult and collaborate with esteemed colleagues and friends.
Nick was a voracious reader and filled his library with books on hydrology, statistical analysis and World War I history. He also traveled the world extensively for both business and pleasure. His legacy study on the world’s salt water islands provided an opportunity to take Stella with him to Hawaii and other islands. After his retirement, Nick and Stella travelled near and far. Domestically, they enjoyed visiting historic sites, touring national parks and attending Yankees Spring Training games in Florida. When travel took them abroad, they relished trips to Greece and other parts of Europe.
His in-depth knowledge of world geography, demographics and cultural norms became a source of fascination for his wife and daughters. Peppered with random questions on facts and figures, he would always modestly reply that he was not an expert. When pushed for a guess, he was almost always within striking distance. Jeopardy was a nightly ritual that became a family favorite event.
Nick will be dearly missed and fondly remembered as a loving and devoted husband, father, brother, uncle, friend and colleague.
His family will receive friends on Wednesday, August 21 from 2:00-4:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm at Money & King Funeral Home, 171 Maple Ave. W., Vienna, VA 22180. A Celebration of Life will be held in the coming weeks. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that Tribute Donations be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation (parkinsonfoundation.org).
The family is especially grateful for the assistance of pallbearers: