FAYETTEVILLE, NC – After 91 years on this earth, early Monday morning, November 25, Chris Poulos Sr. entered his eternal life. He was born in the mountains of Greece, the seventh son of the late Spero John and Eugenia Antonopoulos Stathopoulos. Poulos was also preceded in death by his infant son, Athanasios; four brothers Ioannis Stathopoulos, Demetrious Stathopoulos, George Stathopoulos, and Gus Poulos; two sisters and brother-in-law, Maria Stathopoulos and Konstandia Stathopoulos Kakouras (Dionysios).
He grew up helping his older brother, Demetrious, tend sheep. Demetrious was killed serving his country in World War II. As Greece fell, Poulos watched the burning of his home and village (he said “The bright side was no more school!”). As an older teen, he and his brother, George, became lumberjacks as everyone was rebuilding their homes and country. He moved to Piraeus (the seaport city near Athens), where he found a job in a neighborhood market. He stocked the store each morning from the port to the market with a pushcart. He worked with stock boys and clerks till early afternoon. At siesta time, instead of sleeping, he went to the bay and learned to swim. There he began his lifelong love of the water. The store reopened in the late evening and at night the young employees slept above the market, “room and board” was most of their pay.
After completing his service as Sargent in the Greek Royal Army, Poulos immigrated to the U.S. in 1955. First coming to Fayetteville to join his brothers Gus and John, later that year he moved to Thomasville, GA and became a partner in Rose City Coffee Shop. He returned to Fayetteville in 1962 and married Melba Meletiou of Burlington, NC.
In 1963, Poulos founded Chris’s Steak House so he could share his love of fine dining (and steak!). He was beloved by the families that he cooked for and their children would come to the “fireplace” to watch him cook. His love of children endeared him to all. Poulos had three children whom he dearly loved and they loved him in return. Though his work did not allow him the time to enjoy the family as much as he would have liked, they all have wonderful memories of stolen moments that they will always treasure. As soon as his children were old enough, they joined him at work and with his wife as cashier, it was truly a family restaurant, which became a legend in Fayetteville. When grandchildren came along, he retired and had 27 years of pure joy and never-ending fun with them.
His love of God and church gave him a longing to sing with the choir. After the elderly chanter of his church could no longer serve, Poulos began chanting and singing with the choir for over 30 years. He was a lifelong member of both the AHEPA and the Evrytanian Association, for which he served terms as local and national president.
An elderly customer saw Poulos eyeing his 1958 Cadillac and willed the car to him when he passed away. Poulos’ pride and joy became the family wedding car for his children and many nieces, nephews, and granddaughter. In 2019, it went to its first prom at Terry Sanford.
In 1983, he bought a camper top for his truck, furnished it with three bean bag chairs and pillows, shipped it to Rotterdam, flew with his wife and children to Europe and drove them to where their grandparents grew up. They spent time in the Evrytanian mountains, where Poulos grew up, and to the Aegean island of Samos where their maternal grandparents were raised. He took them to the Albanian border where their uncle died in WWII and to the ancient sites of Athens and Olympia, home of the original Olympic games.
Poulos is survived by his loving wife, Melba, three children and ten grandchildren; his daughter Jenny Mourounas (Tommy) of Florence, SC and their children Elaine Mourounas Snowden (Gray) and George Thomas Mourounas; son Luke C. Poulos (Lisa) of Wilmington, NC and their children Chris Luke Poulos, Anne Elizabeth Poulos, Kelcey Dudley Marek (Aron) and Morgan Leigh Dudley; and son Spero C. Poulos (Helen) of Fayetteville, NC and their children Emily “Mel” Poulos, Roxanne Elizabeth Poulos, Chris Spero Poulos II, and Ellie Grace Poulos; brother John S. Poulos (Kay) of Fayetteville, NC; and two sisters-in-law Penny (Gus) and Andrigoula (George).
The family received friends from 6-8 PM on November 28 at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 614 Oakridge Avenue, Fayetteville, NC with the Trisagion service beginning at 6:30 PM. Visitation followed in the Hellenic Center. A funeral service was held November 29 at 11 AM at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church. Burial followed in Fayetteville Memorial Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church or the Evrytanian Association to fund their project for Children With Special Needs.
Online condolences may be made at www.jerniganwarren.com
Services were entrusted to Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home, 545 Ramsey Street Fayetteville, NC 28301.
Published in Fayetteville Observer on November 26.