NEW JERSEY – The funeral of businessman and philanthropist John Sakellaris was held at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Clifton on January 16 with His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of NJ presiding, assisted by clergymen from parishes in the tri-state area.
Family and friends filled the church for the final farewell and to honor the native son of Karpathos, dedicated member of the community, and Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. May his memory be eternal.
Sakellaris was born on October 1, 1943, to Eleftherios and Irene Sakellaris in Volada, on the island of Karpathos, Dodecanese, Greece. In 1960, at age of 17, he joined the Merchant Marines and was deployed from Greece bound for service in Mexico. Two years later, in 1962, Sakellaris arrived in the United States. On June 18, 1964, he was married to Zoe Lahanas, who was also born in Volada, Karpathos and was raised from the age of 10 in Jersey City, NJ.
Sakellaris was a successful restaurant owner, beginning with Al’s Diner in Jersey City, and subsequent restaurant ventures, most recently, as the owner of the Lyndhurst Diner in Lyndhurst.
Sakellaris served Pan Gregorian Enterprises, Inc. since 1994. He had served as President and was currently serving as Chairman. He was the Treasurer of Pan Gregorian of America and also, a member of the Board of Trustees of P.G.E.I. of America Charitable Foundation, Inc. He was a “Pioneer” in community involvement, both in the Karpathian community and in the entire Greek American “Omogenia.”
He served as President of the Association of Voladioton “Saint Anargyroi,” President of the Parish Council of Saint Demetrios Church in Jersey City and supported the Karpathian Federation. John Sakellaris was instrumental in the formation of the Federation of Hellenic American Organizations of New Jersey. He continuously strived for the improvement of all organizations he served and his goal was to keep the ideals of Hellenism alive.
His passion for politics was evident in many years of political involvement in support of many political leaders both on the local, state, and national level. His initial and primary support was to those leaders who furthered the Philhellene cause on all political fronts. Many of the political figures included but are not limited to Senator Bill Bradley, Senator Robert Menendez, Governor Jim Florio, Senator Paul Sarbanes, Congressman Bill Pascrell, and the late U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, as well as Florida Representative Gus Bilirakis. In 1987, he joined the Michael Dukakis Presidential Committee and in 1992 the Paul Tsongas Presidential Committee, becoming one of the strongest supporters of Greek American Presidential candidates.
Jersey City, NJ was the venue for Sakellaris’ early years of political involvement. His first taste of politics began with his support of Congressman Dominick V. Daniels of New Jersey’s 14th Congressional District in the 1970s. Hudson County, New Jersey additionally strengthened John’s involvement with Frank J. Guarini, Hudson County’s Democratic Party Chairman from 1979-1993, and later in his capacity as NJ Senator and U.S. Representative. A great honor for Sakellaris was his appointment as Deputy Mayor of Jersey City from 1985-1989 under Mayor Anthony R. Cucci. He proudly continued to represent the Greek-American community in Hudson County. Most recently, in 2009, the Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine appointed Sakellaris as a Commissioner to the “historic” Commission of Hellenic Heritage in which he was a visionary and a founder. New Jersey made history by becoming the first state in the U.S. to have a special commissioner on Greek issues.
Sakellaris served the Greek Orthodox Church in many capacities, including as Member of the Metropolitan Council of Metropolis of New Jersey. In the Fall of 2011, in recognition for his services he was awarded by His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew The Archon Offikion Ypomnimatographos and became a member of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle.
Of all his accolades, one made him the proudest. He was a Great Benefactor in building the Community Center of Archistratogos Lastou, (The Church of Archangel Michael) in Volada, Karpathos, Greece. It was the true testament to his homeland and his faith; very near and dear to his heart. Archangel Michael was a symbol of his faith, his childhood, his family and the enormous love and generosity in his heart.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Zoe Sakellaris (nee Lahanas) and their loving children, Vasilia Logothetis and her husband, James, Irene Papas and her husband, Stefanos, and Evdoxia Sakellaris, by his dear grandsons, Emanuel and Yanni Sakellaris Logothetis and Mihali Papas, and by his sisters and brother, Kalliopi Konstantinou, Maria Amanezis, and George Sakellaris.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to P.G.E.I. of America Charitable Foundation. Your generous donation will be forwarded to Hackensack University Medical Center Children’s Cancer Foundation.
(Obituary from northjersey.com)