Theodore “Ted” George Vallas

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Theodore “Ted” George Vallas, wonderful husband, devoted father, and pioneering entrepreneur passed away on October 30, 2018 at the age of 87 after a courageous battle with cancer and dementia. He is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years, Dot, and their three children: Stephanie Prettyman of Albuquerque, NM, Paula Anastopoulo (Angelo) of Charleston, SC, and Cara Adcock (John) of Holly Springs, NC, in addition to six grandchildren.

The son of Greek immigrants, Ted was born in Raleigh, NC, on October 4, 1931. As a youngster Ted grew up surrounded by a close family and large Greek community. Many days were spent working in his parents’ restaurant, “The Manhattan,” located on Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh. It was here Ted developed a strong work ethic, modeling himself after his hardworking parents, Pota and George, whose popular restaurant catered to the Raleigh community as well as GIs stationed at nearby Fort Bragg.

A gifted athlete, Ted attended Hugh Morson High School and excelled in wrestling, track, and football. His record for longest javelin throw stood in the NC record books for many years. After a successful high school football career, Ted attended Mississippi State University on a football scholarship and thrived academically as a business major. In his first semester on campus, Ted met his future father-in-law and MSU head baseball coach, “Doc” Patty. Patty’s team was filled with many first generation Greek-American athletes, and Ted quickly befriended many of the young men on the team. After a year, Ted was eventually introduced to the coach’s daughter, Dorothy. Ted said when he laid eyes on the Mississippi beauty, it was love at first sight and the beginning of a life-long love story for the two.

Ted and Dot married in 1956 in a small church near the MSU campus. After serving in the Army for two years, stationed at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, Ted began working for the Wall Street Journal in the advertising department. Due to Ted’s strong work ethic, he quickly advanced to Eastern Advertising Manager at the Journal.

After working 11 years with the Journal, Ted and his family returned to North Carolina. He purchased a struggling newspaper, The Independent, in the town of Fuquay-Varina, 30 minutes outside of Raleigh, from publisher Todd Caldwell. The Independent was a six-page publication established in 1935 but had changed little over the years; it was located in a former chicken hatchery.

When Ted bought the paper, he had no experience running a weekly publication. Armed with only the advertising skills he had acquired at the Wall Street Journal, Ted literally put on his track shoes and didn’t stop until he retired. In addition to being the owner and publisher of The Independent, he wrote articles, editorials, covered sports events, developed pictures, sold advertising, delivered papers, and learned how to service the old line-a-type printing machines. Fuquay-Varina residents could always count on seeing Ted at high school football and basketball games with a camera in hand, taking pictures for next week’s edition. Ted became a jack of all trades – a true “Renaissance Man” in the newspaper industry.

After several years, the paper became a respectable weekly publication. Readership increased and as Fuquay-Varina grew, so did The Independent. He moved the paper from the chicken hatchery to a brand new, state-of-the-art building located on Vance Street in 1979. Ted then founded the Angier Independent and purchased The Western Wake Herald (Apex and Holly Springs), and for a short time, The Garner Newspaper. Afterward, he became co-owner of the Benson Printing Plant so he would no longer have to rely on other printing presses to print his papers every week.

In 1988 Ted sold the papers to Ottaway Newspapers, a division of Dow Jones & Company. After a successful career of almost 20 years, Ted took his flagship paper, The Independent, from a six-page publication to a 24-page, colored publication with a staff of 10. His contributions to journalism in Wake County are endless. He transformed a small paper from a social-based publication that had relied on post-Depression era methods and ushered it into the 20th Century within a span of a few years. Ted’s newspapers offered the people in Southern Wake County top-notch reporting and advertising – something that many locals had never experienced before.

Ted was a successful businessman, but he never forgot his humble beginnings or let success change him. He treated every person on his staff like a family member, often cooking steak dinners for everyone at the Independent after the weekly “paste-up” was completed on Tuesday afternoons. He was a gentleman in business and a friend to everyone in the Fuquay area.

Ted will be remembered for his incredible sense of humor, his ability to tell a wicked joke at just the right time, giving sage advice to his daughters about boyfriends and finances, his love of golf, always pulling for his beloved Mississippi State Bulldogs, his devotion to his mother and family, being a doting husband to Dot and father to his three girls, boasting about his grandchildren, exuding a gentle kindness to loved ones and strangers alike, leaning on his faith through good times and bad, and his huge heart. May his memory be eternal.

Ted was preceded in death by his mother and father, Pota and George Vallas and his sisters Harriet Apostolou and Vicki Pediaditakis. He is survived by his sister Roxanne (Steve) Serletis of Raleigh.

Visitation will be Thursday, November 1st at Thomas Funeral Home from 6pm-9pm, 401 N. Ennis Street, Fuquay Varina. The funeral will be held on Friday, November 2nd at 11:00 am at Christ Church, 120 E. Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601. There will be a private family burial ceremony on Saturday morning at Wake Chapel Cemetery in Fuquay-Varina.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Transitions LifeCare, 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, NC 27607.