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Politics

A Cretan Shrine Grows in Brooklyn to Remember George Kortsolakis

August 24, 2016

BAY RIDGE, N.Y. – Ten years ago, George Kortsolakis decided to create a shrine in his backyard in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn dedicated to his native Crete.

He worked hard for about five years and built a model of Crete, with the towns, the villages, beaches, mountains, ridges and valleys, and smaller islands that surround the island.

The handmade items created mostly from memory demonstrated in incredible detail Kortsolakis’ love of his homeland.

He built the Palace of Minos and other cultural monuments of Crete including the church history, culture, and natural wealth of Crete.

In 2005, a few months after the Olympic Games in Athens 2004, Kortsolakis unveiled his Crete to his Greek and American neighbors.

He began giving tours of his Crete and caught the attention of the US media. The National Herald was the first to cover George Kortsolakis’ work.

The model of Crete included many items requiring maintenance and George, his wife Flora, and grandchildren worked daily to take care of Crete just as they take care of their own home.

The labor of love continued for more than a decade with small repairs for weather damage and the everyday upkeep of the extremely detailed model.

George Kortsolakis became ill and on April 19, 2016 he passed away at age 88, leaving behind a grieving family- his wife Flora, daughter Magda Kortsolakis-Capurso, son-in-law Michael Neamonitakis (husband of daughter Paraskevoula) and grandchildren Alexandra, Marietta, Vasilio, Floriana, and George and other relatives in Crete.

After her husband’s death, the bereaved wife took the difficult task upon herself to maintain the model of Crete.

She gets up early in the morning to clean the windows and roof of leaves and dusts all the objects her husband had with great effort and enthusiasm made and which enables visitors to experience the love of Crete all Cretans feel for their birthplace.

“At times alone and sometimes with the help of my grandchildren we are trying to preserve the Crete of Bay Ridge keeping my husband’s memory alive,” Flora Kortsolaki nee Athanasios told the National Herald.

Flora was born and raised in Athens. A rare illness of her sister, the late Calliope, led her to New York and she settled permanently in the US.

In historic community of the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen in Brooklyn Heights, Flora met George Kortsolakis, who had arrived in New York about four years earlier.

In 1959, they married and had two daughters, the late Paraskevoula (Voula) and Magda. George was a tailor and worked for famous fashion houses, including Gucci and sewing suits for celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman and others, while Flora was seamstress, sewing wedding dresses for Kleinfeld Bridal. The couple lived happily for 57 years and only

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