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Former Hanover Student, 20, Dies at College

George Papadoliopoulos in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph)

George Papadoliopoulos in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph)

Hanover — George Papadoliopoulos loved basketball, was a huge Celtics fan and could build a computer from scratch.

But on Sunday evening while playing an intramural basketball game, the Hanover High School graduate collapsed and later died.

His parents are still waiting for the autopsy results to tell them why their 20-year-old son passed away.

Papadoliopoulos was a sophomore at Western New England University where he was studying biomedical engineering.

Papadoliopoulos was in the Alumni Healthful Living Center on the Springfield, Mass., campus when he collapsed. Campus police and emergency medical personnel worked to revive Papadoliopoulos before he was transported to Baystate Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Dean of Students Jeanne Hart-Steffes sent out an email to the university’s 3,800 students Monday morning recounting what happened.

“George touched the lives of so many members of our community in numerous ways. We share the grief of those who had the opportunity to know him,” Hart-Steffes said.

Papadoliopoulos’ parents, Perry Papadoliopoulos and Elaine Georgakopoulos, own C&A Pizza on Lebanon Street in Hanover. The restaurant is usually open seven days a week, but yesterday the lights were turned off and there was a sign taped to the door that read, “C&A Pizza will be closed until further notice due to a family emergency.”

George Papadoliopoulos always loved basketball and had played on teams in middle school and high school.

He was also an avid fisherman. He often brought home 50 fish at a time, which would fill his parents’ freezer.

“We ate them, but there were so many of them. How much fish could you eat?” his mother said.

A few years ago he went to Martha’s Vineyard to deep sea fish and brought back a small shark that was several feet long. He wanted to get the shark mounted, but he couldn’t find anyone who would agree to do it. He thought maybe he could at least mount the jaws, but experts refused to do it, his mother said.

In the end, he had to throw the shark away because it rotted.

“I remember because we went everywhere to try to do it for him,” his mother said.

Papadoliopoulos was also skilled with computers, a passion that was passed down to him from his father. He and his dad would drive to Boston to their favorite computer parts store, and then Papadoliopoulos would build computers from scratch. His mother still uses the computer that he built for her.

“My computer works perfect,” she said.

He was so passionate and skilled with computers that he could have majored in computer science, his mother said. But instead he told his parents that he wanted building and playing with computers to remain a hobby.

“Mostly he liked to put things together, build it and see if it worked,” his mother said.

He had an interest in the medical field, which is why he chose biomedical engineering, and his dad said he was looking forward to spending a lot of time in labs and conducting research.

But most important to Papadoliopoulos was his family. He chose Western New England University because it was only a two hour drive from home. And he came home almost every weekend to do his laundry and spend time with his two younger sisters, Aphrodite and Soula.

Both his parents are from Greece, and most of Papadoliopoulos’ family lives in Kalmata, Greece. When he and his sisters were younger, the family tried to take summer trips to Greece each year.

But as the children grew older, it became more difficult, especially since the family had to run C&A Pizza.

The whole family was planning another trip this summer.

Perry Papadoliopoulos and Elaine Georgakopoulos have been in contact with Western New England University, and they are hoping to talk to with Papadoliopoulos’ friends who were with him when he was playing basketball so they can get a better idea of what happened.

“It was baffling,” his mother said. “The only thing they said was that he collapsed and his heart gave out, and they couldn’t get him back.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

CORRECTION

This article has been amended to correct an earlier error. The following correction appeared in the Thursday, Feb. 21 edition of the Valley News.

Elaine Georgakopoulos is the mother of George Papadoliopoulos, a 20-year-old Hanover High School graduate who died on Sunday. A story in yesterday's Valley News incorrectly spelled her name.