The AHEPAN Summer 2018 - 15

of a Greek Orthodox priest, Reverend I.N. Chebithes.
Upon the death of his mother at a young age, Vasilios
left in search of a better life in America, as was the
case for many of our forebears. When he first came
to the United States in 1906 at the age of 14, he was
raised by Mr. and Mrs. Lemuel Gragg of Somerset,
Kentucky. They were a farming family and young
Vasili was a hard worker. He was diligent and eager to
earn his way. While working the farm, he also attended
Somerset High School and played football there.
Vasilios impressed the Gragg family with his work
ethic. They noticed he would practice the art of public
speaking by delivering orations to the corn stalks as
he worked in the cornfields. Recognizing his unique
talents, ability and dedication, the Graggs, according
to interviews we conducted in Karavostamos with his
nieces, Augeri Fouskas and Argyro Pavlou, helped
Vasilios attend college. He attended Centre College at
Danville, Kentucky, one of the oldest colleges founded
west of the Allegheny Mountains.
Chebithes then moved to Washington, D.C., where
he worked for the government and attended George
Washington Law School. He was a veteran of the
First World War, serving overseas with Field Remount
Squadron 326. He returned to Washington, D.C. and
became a prominent attorney. He also focused his
energy on supporting two non-profit Greek American
organizations, the American Hellenic Educational
Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA), which was
founded in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1922, and the  PanIcarian Brotherhood (connecting the diaspora from
the Eastern Aegean Greek islands of Ikaria and
Fournoi).  He had three children with his wife, Ann
Batlis Chebithes: a daughter Stamatia Chebithes in
1941, a son, Sitheris Chebithes in 1943, and a second
daughter, Efstratia (Tracie) Chebithes in 1947.
The AHEPA family delegation toured the home of
V.I. Chebithes, which was centered in the middle of
the town square. Noted island historian John Tsantes
produced many documents, two full volumes in
fact, on the topic of V.I. One, from source unknown,
had a photograph of V.I. Chebithes with the notation "Supreme President of AHEPA." The document
described the island and its most famous native son by
marveling in poem how one from such a remote and
undeveloped island could rise to be such a contributor
to Hellenism in America.
Also on hand in the village was a history as written

www.ahepa.org

by recently departed Ahepan and Greek American
historian, the late Nikitas J. Tripodes. V.I. served as
Supreme President for eight years, from 1924-1927,
and then again, from 1935-1940. V.I. was a charter
member of AHEPA Chapter 31, Washington, D.C.,
on August 7, 1924. Prior to Chebithes' involvement,
AHEPA was on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse.
By 1925, Chebithes was using his brilliant organizational and public relations skills with his dynamic
speaking ability to attract many men into the Order
and establish new chapters, expanding the Order into
the largest Hellenic heritage organization in the United
States. AHEPA chapters were named after him, including Chapter 391 in Dearborn, Michigan. Together with
AHEPA's leadership at the time, Brother Chebithes
assisted with the establishment of the AHEPA Hospital
in Thessaloniki and the induction of President Harry
Truman into AHEPA.
Another document, aged and tattered, was a true
find. It was a copy of The Ahepan, winter 1985, folded
over to an article and photograph of V.I. The article
title was "V.I. Chebithes: The Greatest Ahepan?" The
locals reported this document was brought from
America and has passed through the village as a
source of inspiration for the last 30-plus years.
As Supreme President Hollister, with the assistance of the delegation, spoke to the residents of
Karavostamos, the stories they were told were striking. The people of Karavostamos, many in their
mid-90s, in true Icarian
style, recalled a famous
story that has passed
through the generations.
Chebithes was known as
a superior orator. When
traveling
throughout
America, he stopped
at many communities
creating AHEPA chapters during his visits.
He was always dressed
in a suit and tie. Early
during his travels to
communities espousing
AHEPA, V.I. noticed a
poor Greek man in tatV.I. Chebithes
tered clothing in the crowd. In midspeech, he left the podium, took off

Summer 2018 · THE AHEPAN

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The AHEPAN Summer 2018

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https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Fall2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Summer2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Spring2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Fall2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Spring2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Winter2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Fall2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Summer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Spring2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Winter2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Fall2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Summer2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Spring2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Winter2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Fall2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/ahepan_Summer2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_spring2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_winter2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_fall2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_summer2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_spring2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/ahepan_winter2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Fall2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_Summer2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/Ahepan_spring2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/ahepan_winter2013
https://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/mercury/ahepan_fall2013
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_summer2013
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_spring2013
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_winter2012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_2012summerfall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_2012spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_2012winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_2011fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_201107
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_201105
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_201103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_2010winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_2010fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_2010summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_2010winterspring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mercury/ahepan_2009fall
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