Nicholas D. Karavedas, beverage producer, dies

Went from making an orange-flavored soft drink to becoming a bottler of a liquid used in diagnosing diabetes

  • Nicholas Karavedas
Nicholas Karavedas
October 19, 2010|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Nicholas D. Karavedas, who produced a glucose-tolerance beverage used in diabetic testing after making and selling Baltimore's Sun Spot soft drinks, died of cardiac arrest Oct. 8 at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, Fla. The Canton resident was 79.

In an unusual career move, Mr. Karavedas went from making a popular Baltimore orange-flavored soft drink to becoming a highly successful bottler of a liquid used in diagnosing a patient with diabetes.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Woodbrook Avenue near Druid Hill Park, he was the youngest of seven children whose orphaned father emigrated from Greece at age 12. When his father was a teen, he was partially supported financially by the Greek community. Both father and son reciprocated that assistance by supporting Baltimore's Greek Orthodox Cemetery on Windsor Mill Road. Mr. Karavedas was on the 1980 committee to construct the cemetery's Resurrection Chapel.

After attending the Pallicary Vedova School in Port Chester, N.Y., Mr. Karavedas graduated from City College in 1949. During this time, he met his future wife, Katherine "Kitty" Stavros, at a Greek church dance.

After service in the Army during the Korean War, he studied law briefly but joined his father at their New Gold Bottling Co. on West Baltimore Street.

"He was a born salesman," said the Very Rev. Constantine Moralis, dean of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, where Mr. Karavedas was a member. "He was always generous to the church and its youth activities. I can recall seeing the cases of Sun Spot arrive for basketball games."

Family members said that Mr. Karavedas marketed his family's 5-cent soft drink to corner stores and confectioneries in the 1950s and 1960s. But after the 1968 riots, when many small neighborhood businesses were hard hit, his sales dropped.

In the mid-1970s, Mr. Karavedas became involved with establishing a new product line, a beverage designed to test pregnant women for the presence of gestational diabetes. This beverage glucose-tolerance testing solution, known as GTTS, grew to become a safe way of screening for gestational diabetes.

"He took a risk, and it became, and currently is, widely used by obstetricians and hospitals throughout the United States," said his son-in-law, Louis Close of Phoenix in Baltimore County.

Mr. Karavedas founded a new company, Custom Laboratories Inc., whose principal business was the production of GTTS.

As he had done with soft drinks, he marketed and sold his product with such success that Curtin Matheson, a national corporation, contracted with his Custom Laboratories Inc. to produce GTTS.

For 25 years, Mr. Close said, Mr. Karavedas' annual contract with Curtin Matheson was continuously renewed.

"He became the largest supplier of glucose-tolerance beverages in the country," said Maurice Cocca, the former Curtis Matheson president, who lives in The Villages in Florida. "He was also my favorite supplier. He was the nicest guy you could ever meet."

In 2000, Curtin Matheson Scientific merged with Fisher Scientific. Mr. Karavedas then negotiated a sale of his GTTS business to Fisher Scientific and retired.

In retirement, Mr. Karavedas enjoyed traveling extensively with his wife, including trips to Europe, Australia, South America and most recently to Antarctica in 2008.

When not traveling, Mr. Karavedas enjoyed spending the winter months with his wife at their home in Vero Beach, Fla.

Services were held Oct. 13 at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation.

In addition to his wife of 59 years, Mr. Karavedas is survived by three daughters, Denise K. Kulinski of Cockeysville, Constance K. Satyshur of Timonium and Cynthia K. Close of Phoenix; and six grandchildren.

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