Obituaries: ZAHARIAS, MEKRAS, PANAGIOTOPOULOS, POULOS, DANOS, FOURTOUNES, GEORGE - The National Herald, January 21, 2006
The following obituaries and article were published in the January 21, 2006 issue of The National Herald. I am providing them as a possible tool for Hellenic genealogy research.
Byron ZAHARIAS, Immigrant Physician who Gave his Heart to Helping his Community, Passes Away at 81
By Linda Davis Contra Costa Times
ALAMO, Calif. - Byron Zaharias, believed to be the first physician to set up practice in Alamo, died on December 30 in Red Bluff from a sudden illness. He was 81.
Zaharias, a Greek immigrant, made a name for himself as a community leaderin many areas during his 27 years in Alamo, advocating for a new high school and serving as the first committee chairman of the emergency room at John Muir Medical Center when the hospital opened in 1965. He also was the hospital's chief of staff in 1981.
Zaharias was a staff surgeon at Kaiser Hospital when he moved his family from Oakland to Contra Costa in the 1950's. He opened a private medical practice in 1959 in Alamo, which grew to become Alamo Medical Group.
San Ramon Valley school district's director of secondary education Rob Stockberger remembers Zaharias well.
"He was the team doctor for the football team and a community member who helped move the notion of a second high school," Stockberger said. "He definitely supported the development of Monte Vista High. He was a very active parent in the new school."
Zaharias was born into a medical family: his mother was a nurse, his father a physician. He came to the United States in 1946 and became a citizen. He met and married his college sweetheart, Joyce while attending school at UC Berkeley as a pre-med student. He went to medical school at Boston University and did his internship as a surgeon in an Army MASH unit during the Korean War.
A possible typo in the Army recruitment records changed his name from Zaharakis to Zaharias. He changed his name because that was easier than to change Army records, he used to tease.
Zaharias was devoted to his medical career, but he always had time for his family, his son Gary said. He recalled how his father took the family to the opening of the Seattle World's Fair in 1962: "Dad got home at 6 PM one Thursday, and said, 'Kids, we're going on a road trip.' We were at the World's Fair the next day. He did spontaneous things like that. We were always going snow and waterskiing and other family outings."
In 1986, Zaharias moved to Discovery Bay, where he had always wanted to live on the water. After he lost his wife in 1988, he went to work at Johnston Atoll in the South Pacific as a medical specialist for Raytheon Corp. There, he met his second wife, Dee Ann, whom he married in 1993.
Zaharias was also an avid volunteer for Make-A-Wish Foundation and Shasta Community Health Center. He loved fishing and playing poker in his spare time.
"He lived a full life," his son Gary said.
Dr. Zaharias was born on February 24, 1924 in Thessaloniki. He is survived by hiswife Dee Ann of Cottonwood; his sister, Leya of Athens, Greece; sons and daughters-in-law Dean & Wendy Zaharias of Sonora, Gary & Krystal Zaharias of Tracy, and Ken & Pam Zaharias of Brentwood; seven grandchildren; and five great grandchildren.
A viewing and prayer service was held at Hull's Chapel in Walnut Creek on January 5. Funeral services were held at the San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church on January. Burial was at the Alamo Cemetery.
Memorial gifts can be made to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, 3550 N. Central Avenue #300, Phoenix, AZ 85012-2127 or the American Cancer Society, 800- ACS-2345.
The Contra Costa Times published the above on January 5. The original headline is, “Zaharias Gave his Heart to Improving Community.”
Presbytera TOULA-EXACOUSTI MEKRAS (nee PANAGIOTOPOULOS), Age 82 (includes photo)
Born September 7th 1923 fell asleep peacefully to the Lord on Tuesday, January 3rd 2006 after a very long illness.
Toula was preceded in death by her husband Reverend Protopresbyter Demosthenes J. Mekras whom she worked with side by side in his mission of Orthodoxy and dedication to Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral. She came to Miami in November 1944 from Lowell, MA as a young bride and until the time of her illness spent her life devoted to the church.
Toula’s strong commitment to her husband and Orthodoxy made her one of the most dynamic and accomplished Presbyteras in the Archdiocese. Toula was a great organizer with tremedous vision. She sewed church vestments for her husband, robes for the choir and altar boys. She had mothers sewing magnificent beaded vests and evzone skirts for the marching Evzone Dance and Drill Team; she organized 150 Greek Orthodox youth to perform throughout Florida and march in NYC. Toula was given the Saint Paul Medal by the late Archbishop Iakovos, the highest honor bestowed to a person. Toula was active in Philoptochos and served as President as well as having held other offices. She was always coordinating activities for Philoptochos. With the help and support of many women she published a wonderful Greek cookbook “Marching to the Greek Cuisine” which to date has made a profit of over $62,000 to be used for Cathedral and auditorium renovations. Toula raised funds to purchase flags bearing the emblem of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to be flown at all the Orthodox monasteries in the Holy Land. Toula was “way ahead of her times” having been an independent merchant on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables in the late 50’s with “Cynthia’s-Coray”, a ladies ready-to-wear and accessory boutique. Toula brought South Florida its first Greek-American Radio program “Grecian Melodies” on WEDR. Toula chaperoned Miss Universe 1964 when Miss Greece Corinna Tsopei was crowned on Miami Beach. They traveled the world together for a year. Toula was also a successful realtor who became a member of the Keyes Million Dollar Club very early in her real estate career. A devoted life pertner and a loving Mother and Yiayia. It has been difficult for her family to watch her fail over the past 11+years. Our family thanks Griselda Reyes for her loving care to our Mother over the years. Also preceded in death by her parents George and Maria Panagiotopoulos, sisters Athena Venizelos and Stella Karras, brothers Perry and Stavros Panos. Toula will be deeply mourned by her surviving family: daughter Evangeline (John) Scurtis, sons Dr. George (Satira) Mekras and Dr. John (Pamela) Mekras. Grandchildren Anastasia (Panagiotis) Arvanitis, Cynthia (Alexander) Rodriguez, Constantine (Hillary) Scurtis, Demosthenes George (Lourdes), Peter, John, Demosthenes John, Cynthia, Samuel and Maria Mekras.
Great-grandchildren Ariana and Joana Arvanitis, C. Jonathan and Kristian Scurtis and Natasha Rodriguez. Sister Christina Matson and brother Aristomenis (Mary) Panos. Sisters-in-Law Marie Panos and Mary Mekras, as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Our family has been greatly diminished with her death. Funeral services were held on Saturday, January 7th, 2006 at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, (Coral Way), Miami, FL. Burial was private.
Donations to: St Sophia, Mekras Memorial Fund, 244 SW 24 Rd., Miami, FL 33129.
Steven J. POULOS, World War II Hero Found Murdered in his Utah Home
By Geoffrey Fattah & Brady Snyder, Desert Morning News
HOLLADAY, Utah - As a young American soldier in World War II, Steven J. Poulos took five German machine gun bullets while storming Omaha Beach in Normandy,France and lived to tell the tale.
But last Saturday afternoon, January 14, the 80-year-old Poulos was found by family shot dead in his Holladay home. The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office is treating the death as a homicide.
On a quiet winding street, yellow police tape roped off the house as investigators talked to neighbors standing outside to find out if anyone saw or heard any commotion.
Poulos was found on the floor of his home, near 2500 E. 4800 South, by his wife and visiting family members around 1:35 PM.
"Initially, it looked like a medical problem, but they turned him over and found a bullet hole," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's spokesman Paul Jaroscak. Investigators are ruling out suicide due the location of the bullet wound, Jaroscak said.
Another mystery is a missing automobile from the residence. Jaroscak said family members reported that a maroon 1997 Subaru Legacy was being kept at the home by Poulos for an acquaintance. "We've contacted the car's owner, who said the vehicle should be there, but it's not," Jaroscak said.
Police are on the lookout for the vehicle, which has California plates with the number 4KO-B631. Anyone with information can contact the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office at 801-743-7000.
REELING FROM SHOCK
Friends and neighbors were reeling from the shock of the news. They described Poulos and his wife, Billie Loukas, as well-respected members of their neighborhood and among the Greek Orthodox community.
Although their last names are spelled differently, Jaroscak confirmed that Poulos is the cousin of well-known auto dealer Gus Paulos, who died of cancer on January 1 at age 64.
Poulos was well known for his distinguished military service and his wit.
"It's a great tragedy and great shock for us all," said Father Michael Kouremetis of the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Holladay. "Steve was a lifelong member."
After meeting with the family earlier, Kouremetis said the Poulos family is coping the best they can with the tragedy, and that the church community has gathered to support them.
"He was a war hero, and was injured in D-Day. He spent a lifetime in the car business, and was an active parish member," said William Souvall, second vice president of the church's Parish Council. "He was very outgoing and charismatic. He always had a funny story to tell, and was a pleasure to be around. I can't believe it."
Neighbors said they found it hard to believe someone would want to harm Poulos. "Steve was a charmer," said next-door neighbor Ralph Love, standing with his wife, Sherrie Love, outside their home. "They were the most super neighbors, very kind and very caring," Sherrie Love said.
Sherrie Love said she was outside spreading breadcrumbs for squirrels when she saw the ambulance. Poulos' daughter wasin complete shock, the couple said. The couple also said they neither saw nor heard anything suspicious last Saturday afternoon.
Poulos' wife also is known in the community for her singing voice and community service. Loukas is a noted opera singer and former public relations director for the Utah Opera and Ballet West.
Poulos also was well known among veterans' groups, having taken five bullets during the war - one in the leg, one in the back, two in the side and another in the neck.
He used to say one of those bullets would have been fatal, but was deflected by the gold cross he wore around his neck.
Poulos spent two days pinned down on Omaha Beach, and that was after his unit - the 29th Infantry Division - struggled to make it to land after its landing craft, fearing mines, dropped them 100 yards away from shore. The water was deep and Poulos went straight for the bottom until he cut his gear loose and surfaced. A champion swimmer at South High, he survived the swim, crawled onto shore, took a rifle from the hands of an already dead G.I. and ducked. Others who were less fortunate drowned.
Poulos had said he was not sure how he made it. "I didn't think I would come out of it," Poulos told the Deseret Morning News in 2002. "A lot of guys didn't. We had to fight like hell to get the hell off that beach."
Poulos was awarded a purple heart, bronze medal, combat infantry badge and a blue ribbon citation, according to the Utah Daily Chronicle. He is expected to be the focus of a documentary exploring the stories of Utah veterans.
Jeff Panos, producer for the KUED series, "Utah War Stories," said Poulos' story of heroism is the stuff of legends. "He was just one of the guys that you would find in 'Saving Private Ryan,' " Panos said. The series is expected to air next March.
The Deseret Morning News published the above on January 15. The original headline is, “Auto Dealer Found Shot Dead in Home.”
DANOS, Christopher Vincent -
Age 44; passed away suddenly at his home in Wales, MA on December 24, 2005. Born on July 26, 1961 in Springfield, MA he grew up in East Longmeadow and was a 1979 graduate of East Longmeadow High School. Chris attended Springfield Technical Community College where he obtained an Associates Degree in Laser Electro Optics. In 2000 he earned his BSEE, Summa Cum Laude from Western New England College. As an Electrical Engineer, Chris has been employed by IPG Photonics in Oxford for the past six years. An accomplished musician, Chris was a talented guitarist, drummer, singer, and songwriter. He shared his love of music through his performances in many local area venues. He is the beloved son of Leonard and Mary T. (Pellegrino) Danos of East Longmeadow. He is survived by his former wife and friend, Kathryn Mercier of Granby, MA. Chris was a loving, dedicated, and devoted father to his daughter, Natalie Danos and his son, Alexander Danos, both of Granby, MA, he also leaves his dear brother, John Danos of East Longmeadow, a dear sister Lynn Bluhm and her husband Richard of Palatine, IL, 3 nieces, 3 nephews, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Funeralservices were held on Saturday, December 31 at Forastiere Smith Funeral Home. A memorial scholarship is being established in Chris's name. Memorial Contributions, also, may be made in Chris's name to St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Western Massachusetts, 22 St. George Rd., Springfield MA .01104 or to MakeA-Wish Foundation of Western Mass., 181 Park Ave, Suite 12, W. Springfield MA 01089.
FOURTOUNES, "Fonda" Xenofon -
After a lengthy illness at Toronto Western Hospital in Canada on Monday, December 26, 2005 at the age of 80 years. Beloved husband of Helen (nee Pappakonstantinou). Dear father of Maria Markos and her husband Ted, George Fourtounes, all of Guelph. Loved grandfather of Jory, Jenny and Kiyanah. Sadly missed by his sisters, Stathoulla Attanalis and Dina Makris both of Greece, brother Peter Fourtounes and his wife Tasia of Guelph, Canada. Predeceased by his son Kostas (Gus), his parents, George and Maria Fourtounes, sister Chrisoula and brother John. Service at the St George's Greek Orthodox Church, 50 Dovercliffe Road, Guelph, Canada on Friday, December 30, 2005. Memorial contributions to St. George's Greek OrthodoxChurch would be appreciated.
GEORGE, Alexander C. -
Age 80; formerly of West Hartford, Conn.; died suddenly at his daughter's home on Monday, December 26 2005. Born in Hartford, he was a resident of West Hartford for 47 years before he and wife Bess moved to Boynton Beach, FL nearly two years ago. Affectionately known as “Pappy'” for most of his adult life, he was orphaned as a teenager, the youngest of five brothers. He graduated from Bulkeley High School before enlisting in the Army during World War II. Alex started his business career as a bond underwriter for the Hartford Insurance Company. He then made the lifelong switch to sales, first to the Eversharp Pen Co. and later with the Frank Williams Insurance Agency which was later to become a part of Connecticut General Insurance Co. He was a steward at both St. George's Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Hartford and St. Mark's Greek Orthodox Church of Boca Raton, Florida. Mr. George was an early member of Rockledge Golf Club and a 35 year member of the Avon Golf Club. In 1973, he won the AHEPA National Golf Tournament in Atlanta, GA. He was active on many committees at St. George's Church, serving on the dedication board for groundbreaking ceremonies of St. George's move to its current location.In addition to Bess, his wife of 52 years, he is survived by a daughter, Magdalen Manetas, and her husband, Peter, of Yardley, PA; a son, Chad George, and his wife Nancy, of West Hartford; six grandchildren, Alexander II (Tucker), Teddy, Caroline and Beibhinn George; and Katherine and Peter Manetas III. He is also survived by two brothers, Thomas George, of West Hartford; Christopher George, of Simsbury; a brother and sister-in-law, Peter and Frances Veleas, of Newington; and a sisterin-law, Claire George, of Newington. Funeral services were held Jan. 2 at St. George's Gr. Orth. Cathedral. Memorial contributions to St. George's Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 433 Fairfield Ave. Hartford, CT 06114.