NEW JERSEY – John Sakellaris, Pan Gregorian Chairman of the Board and native son of Karpathos, passed away on January 8. He was 75. The late Sakellaris was distinguished for his ethos, his love for Greece and the community, and his charitable efforts.
He was honored by the Pan Gregorian Foundation at its 32nd Annual Dinner Dance in 2016 during which Pan Gregorian Enterprises President George Siamboulis described Sakellaris as a “selfless and generous man, leader of Pan Gregorian and the community, and devoted family man. John always puts the bar higher and perseveres as few others in achieving a goal.”
At that time, visibly moved by the honor, Sakellaris dedicated the award to his wife Zoe, their children Vasilia and James Logothetis, Irene and Stefan Papas, Eudoxia, and grandchildren Emmanuel and John Logothetis and Michael Papas.
The following biography was published in the book Karpathian Presence in America by Manolis G. Kassiotis who gave The National Herald permission for a reprint.
John Eleftheriou Sakellaris was born in Volada in 1943 and came to America with the last wave of immigration of the decade 1965–1975. He achieved success as a restaurant owner, first with the ownership of Al’s Diner in Jersey City and afterwards Lyndhurst Diner in Lyndhurst.
He distinguished himself in his devotion to community involvement, both in the Karpathian community and beyond, serving as a friend and a model of accomplishment. Notably, his outstanding two-year service as chairman of the Karpathian Federation resulted in such a considerable increase of funds that the Foundation was able to purchase the ‘‘Karpathian Home’’ in New Jersey. He was a sensible and valuable presence in the Dodecanese family.
He supported the re-establishment of the National Dodecanese Council, and served as its Vice President. Significant and generous was his help in the twinning of Rhodes with Greece, NY. Even more important and effective was his contribution to the mobilization of the New Jersey Karpathian community and to its involvement in politics in order to help Greek national interests.
As a founding member of Pan Gregorian Enterprises in New Jersey, Mr. Sakellaris was instrumental in the formation of the Federation of Hellenic American Organizations of New Jersey. Through his tireless work with Andres Comodromos, Tassos Efstratiades and the founding Board members, Mr. Sakellaris helped to establish a sound and productive organization. He served as Executive Vice President of the Federation and Chairman of the Board of Pan Gregorian Enterprises of New Jersey.
Throughout his career, Mr. Sakellaris remained enthusiastically involved in political life, taking an active role in supporting several Philhellene political figures in New Jersey, such as Senator Bill Bradley, Senator Robert Menendez, and Governor Jim Florio. In 1986, he joined the Michael Dukakis for President Committee, becoming one of the strongest supporters of the Greek American presidential candidate.
John Sakellaris also served the Greek Orthodox Church in many capacities, including his service as a president of the Association of Voladioton ‘‘Saints Anargyroi’’ and president of the parish council of Saint Demetrios Church in Jersey City. He was also a member of the Metropolitan Council of the Metropolis of New Jersey. For his selfless service, Mr. Sakellaris was awarded the title of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.