When Eugenios Eugenides passed away in April 1954 he left a last will and testament which will honour his name forever. In it he states:
I hereby establish in Athens, under the provisions of Greek law, an institution to be known as the EUGENIDES FOUNDATION, the purpose of which will be to contribute to the education of young Greeks in the fields of science and technology.
This clause of his testament was the product of many years of consideration and action. This versatile and experienced Greek, a successful businessman and ship owner, shrewd timber merchant, representative and owner of international shipping lines, a citizen of the world, with activities dispersed all over the globe, had an unquenchable passion for his native land, never ceasing to inquire into ways of assisting its development. From an early age he dreamed of a Greece mature and capable of holding its own in technology and industry. Yet he believed that this would never be achieved without the training of competent managers and specialists, suitably equipped to help their country progress.
During his life he put this belief into action with the establishment abroad of the E. E. Arista Trust, set up to help young Greeks by granting scholarships “to enable them to undertake significant responsibilities in the future development of Greece and its resources”. This first successful step led him to the decision that his purpose to promote the scientific and technical education of the younger generations, to which he had dedicated his whole life, had to be safeguarded and developed further, even after his death.
To attain this objective he offered his entire fortune in Greece and most of his assets in other countries. As a good businessman, he ensured the financial independence of the Foundation which, from its inception to the present day, continues to function, expand and develop solely on the strength of its own resources.
Eugenides entrusted the administration of his estate and the execution of the terms of his will to his sister, Marianthi Simou, a lady of great distinction and learning, proficient in several languages and equipped not only with the administrative experience she had acquired alongside her brother, but also with the sterling qualities of determination, sharpness of mind and mildness of character. Since 1954, Marianthi Simou made the fulfillment of her brother’s wishes her own life’s work – and did so with great success. It is generally acknowledged that without her dedication and commitment, the Eugenides Foundation, arguably one of the finest institutions in Greece, could never have achieved what it has. The Eugenides Foundation was established by Royal Decree on 10th February 1956.
The Foundation’s first concern was to grant scholarships to young graduates of technical schools, allowing them to continue their education abroad. It also carried out a study of vocational training needs in Greece and how they might best be met. It was found that the training of technical school students suffered from the lack of suitable and accessible books, poor teaching practices and the absence of the appropriate infrastructure for on-the-job training. It was decided to tackle these problems through the following measures:
When Marianthi Simou passed away on 17th April 1981 she also left virtually all her estate to the Foundation. The administration was taken over by her associate, Nikolaos Vernikos-Eugenides, who had provided her with invaluable support and enabled her to complete the tasks she had set herself. He was responsible for the installation of the first Planetarium. As President of the Foundation he not only continued the work of Marianthi Simou, with undiminished enthusiasm, but went on to expand its activities into new areas. For example, the Foundation donated five specially equipped vehicles to the Ministry of Education, to allow transportation of students with special needs, as well as apparatuses to equip the physics labs of 55 high schools. The Foundation also offered research grants to professors at the Universities of Patra and Ioannina, and scholarships to students of the National Technical University of Athens. The Ministry of Mercantile Marine was given a navigational simulator to help in training students of the Merchant Marine Academies, and teacher training seminars were organized. Before his death on 7th November 2000, Vernikos-Eugenides had also drawn up plans for the expansion of the Foundation, overseeing the design of the new wing, to house the new, state-of-the-art Planetarium as well as space for many educational events and exhibitions. In short, he richly deserved the title of ‘second founder’ of the Foundation.
The inspired design for the expansion and modernization of the Eugenides Foundation was realized successfully by his successor as President, Leonidas Dimitriadis-Eugenides, who ensures that the Foundation’s activities comply fully with its original mission, as well as with the high standards set by his honourable predecessors.