By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
If you were having issues with your phone or your mobile plan, Steven Demetrios was your go-to guy.
He’d help you pick up a device and get set up with it. He’d be glad to have a long conversation on just about anything, Montclair community members who knew him said.
Demetrios was The Phone Guy to many in Montclair. An ally to help understand the latest tech, and a friend to anyone who walked into the Wireless Depot Verizon-authorized retail store he managed on S. Park Street.
“He was my go-to guy, my fix-it guy, the only one I trusted to set up my plans and phones properly,” said Lisa Korn, 66, who had known Demetrios for about 10 years. “[As a customer], I’ve worked with him for years. We’d just also talk forever. He knew everything, got you set up right and made sure you understood everything.”
Demetrios died on Tuesday, July 20 at the age of 45.
Roberta Baldwin, who has been going to Demetrios since the store opened, remembers a time when someone stole her phone while shopping in New York City. By the time she reached Demetrios’ store, Baldwin was a nervous wreck.
“Steve calmed me down, found an old phone in the back of the shop and had me up and running until he could launch my new one,” Baldwin said. “Steve was the calm in the storm of my cell phone life and those who worked for him embodied that vibe.”
Baldwin remembers Demetrios always saying “Don’t worry” or “We’ll figure it out” to her, and to other customers that came in the store with any phone problems they might have.
“During COVID I had another phone crisis and the replacement visit was impeccably orchestrated so I didn’t even have to get out of my car,” Baldwin said. “I’ve had a lot of cell phones through various carriers, but Steven in that store was the real deal, someone my family and I expected to be there forever.”
Geraldine Leer had known Demetrios for about 15 years. She remembers him as a therapist, mediator, a phone mentor and “cool dad” to young customers. And for any middle aged parents of teenagers, she said, he was an ally — someone who could understand what all the fuss was about with the latest technology and services.
“He could reason with demanding preteens and make us parents feel sincerely better about pulling out a credit card,” Leer also wrote in a Facebook post. “He was one of those people that you didn’t see often, but when you did, he felt like an old friend.”
Leer said she will remember Demetrios for his great sense of humor and for the long talks they had every so often during her trips to the store.
An outpouring of support has been posted to social media sites after Demetrios’s death, from close friends, longtime customers and community members.
Loved ones have also created a GoFundMe page to help his mother, Chrystalla Demetrios, pay for funeral expenses. As of Thursday, about $17,000 had been raised.
The GoFundMe’s page creators called him “a character in every which way and loved by all.”
Cindy Kaplan Rooney, one of the donors to the campaign, wrote on its page that Demetrios was “the greatest” — someone who “knew the best solution to everything.”
“He worked too hard because the store was his life,” she wrote. “I remember a time he actually took a vacation after so many people convinced him. There were always local people hanging out in there just to chat with him. … A very special light has gone out.”
A family friend who answered a call to the Wireless Depot said Wednesday Demetrios’s family wasn’t yet ready to speak publicly with media about his death.
Visitation for Demetrios will be Friday, from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Ascension Greek Orthodox Church in Fairview, followed by a prayer service, according to his obituary, published by the A.K. Macagna Funeral Home in Cliffside Park, where Demetrios had lived before coming to Montclair. Interment will be at Fairview Cemetery Friday as well.
He’s survived by his sisters, brothers in law, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins, the obituary said. He also leaves behind his dog, Rocky, “who was his constant companion,” it said.