Nick Stamon

Nick StamonThe article below appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Sept. 27, 2011.

An engaging and enthusiastic violin teacher for more than six decades, Nick Stamon would often take his students to concerts and give their mothers lists of which records to buy to further their musical education. In more recent years, he plucked teaching tools from the Internet.

“He always had a YouTube assignment for me to hear,” said David Morales Boroff, 17, who studied under Mr. Stamon for the past six years. “He saw the value in all new things.

“There was an aura of real awareness about him, a kind of world-wise feeling. He seemed ageless, like a real-life Dumbledore might be,” he said, comparing his teacher to the beloved character in the Harry Potter series.

Mr. Stamon died of a brain tumor Sept. 13 at his Kensington home. He was 88.

In remembering his childhood violin teacher’s exacting style, retired studio musician Rick Gerding said after one lesson in which he did not play well, Mr. Stamon asked him, “‘Ricky, when you go home, do you go to all the houses along the way and ring their bells?’ I said, ‘No, Mr. Stamon. I go straight to my house.’

“He said, ‘That is what we do with the violin. We go right to the note.’

“He taught me to be right on the button,” said Gerding. “I owe him my career.”

In addition to music, Mr. Stamon, who legally changed his last name from Stamatopoulos, founded the San Diego chapter of Amnesty International in 1969. In 2004, he founded International Museum of Human Rights, a nonprofit organization that supports lectures, debates, and dramatic productions on the subject of human rights.

“Nick was Mr. Human Rights,” said Anne Hoiberg, president of the International Museum of Human Rights.

In 1998, at a ceremony honoring him with the United Nations Association’s Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, Stamon began talking about his next project while still on stage, she said.

“With the human rights award plaque in hand, Nick whispered to me, ‘We have to talk about the need for a human rights museum. Here in San Diego.’ ”

Nick Stamatopoulos was born on Aug. 27, 1923 in San Diego, the eldest of three to Sam Stamatopoulos and Angelina Papadimitriou. After graduating from Hoover High School, he served in the Army during World War II as a technician fifth grade in the 3184th Signal Service Batallion before his honorable discharge in 1946.

Through the G.I. Bill, Mr. Stamon attended UC Berkeley and San Diego State College where he earned a bachelor’s in economics. A student of violin since he was eight, his first job was teaching students at August Berger’s music shop Fiddle and Bow in downtown San Diego.

Mr. Stamon also performed with several groups and orchestras including the Sherwood Hall Orchestra and the San Diego Opera. He was a member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 325; the Musical Merit Foundation of Greater San Diego; and was former president of the American String Teachers Association. He also was a music critic for San Diego Magazine.

Mr. Stamon is survived by his wife of 42 years, the former Peggy Moore; daughters Diane Cox of Medford, Ore., and Robin Whitaker of Houston; sister Pauline Theodore of San Diego; and four grandchildren.

Services have been held. Donations in Mr. Stamon’s memory may be made to Amnesty International or the International Museum of Human Rights at