St. John’s Mourns Passing of Nickolas Davatzes ’62C, ’64G, ’95HON, CEO Emeritus of A&E Television Networks

August 25, 2021

St. John’s University mourns the passing of Nickolas “Nick” Davatzes ’62C, ’64G, ’95HON, Trustee Emeritus, cable television pioneer, and husband of Dorothea Hayes Davatzes ’66Ed. Mr. Davatzes died at his home in Wilton, CT, on August 21. He was 79 years old.

Known throughout the entertainment industry as the visionary who launched A+E Networks and The HISTORY Channel, Mr. Davatzes is fondly remembered by the St. John’s community as a dedicated alumnus, a generous philanthropist, and a devoted champion of the University.

“St. John’s has lost one of the most beloved and revered members of our family, Nickolas Davatzes,” said William J. Janetschek ’84CBA, ’17HON, Chair of the St. John’s Board of Trustees and Retired Partner and Chief Financial Officer, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. “Nick and Dorothea have never forgotten their St. John’s roots, and have given their unwavering support to the University for years.”

Mr. Davatzes grew up in New York City and represents the classic St. John’s success story. The son of Greek immigrants, he graduated from William Cullen Bryant High School in Astoria, NY, and enrolled at St. John’s University—where he met his future wife, Dorothea Hayes. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1962, followed by a Master of Arts degree in Sociology two years later.

After earning his graduate degree, he volunteered for the US Marine Corps, serving in both active and reserve capacities.

In 1968, he and Dorothea wed, and soon thereafter he accepted a position with the Xerox Corporation, where he worked in various roles until 1977. He then joined Intext Communication Systems, where he served as President for two years.

He accepted a position with Warner Amex Cable Communications in 1980, where he served as Senior Vice President, Administration and Human Resources, and was quickly promoted to Group Executive the following year. With his experience, he was a natural for the role of President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the newly created A+E Networks, a position for which he was tapped in 1983.

As President and CEO of A&E Television Networks, LLC, he presided over the launch of The HISTORY Channel, Biography, Military History, History Channel en Español, and other ventures. He is a 2005 inductee in the Cable Hall of Fame.

Mr. Davatzes was a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business Board of Advisors, The McCallen Society, The Loughlin Society and The Founders Society.

Mr. Davatzes was awarded an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science Degree from the University in 1995 and a Pietas Medal in 1989. In 2002, he was awarded St. John’s President’s Medal for his unfailing commitment to the University. He served on the President’s Dinner Committee and was responsible for the Biography-style video profiles of honorees that are regularly featured at the dinner and have become a hallmark of the prestigious event.

In 2001, Mr. and Mrs. Davatzes founded the Dorothea Hayes Davatzes Scholarship Fund to benefit students in The School of Education. In 2007, they established the Christopher N. Davatzes Memorial Scholarship Fund, named for their late son. In addition to his beloved wife Dorothea, Mr. Davatzes is survived by his sons Geody Davatzes and Dr. Nicholas Davatzes, and four grandchildren.

“While I never had the honor of meeting Nickolas Davatzes, I am well-aware of the profound impact he has made on the television industry, the University, and his many colleagues, friends, and family members,” offered Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President of St. John’s. “On behalf of the entire St. John’s community, I extend my sincerest condolences to his wife Dorothea and the entire Davatzes family. May he rest in peace.”