NEW YORK – The news of the loss of Investors Bank Vice President and member of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, Chris Koutsis, who passed away on August 8 at the age of 63, after a long battle with cancer, caused great sadness in the Greek community.
"My husband had a very big heart," his wife, Cleopatra, told The National Herald. She stayed by his side along with their two children, daughter Andrea and son Panos, until the very last moment.
According to Mrs. Koutsis, her husband was diagnosed with advanced cancer in December 2016. Nevertheless, he fought hard against the disease and survived for more than three and a half years, even though his condition was not easily treated.
"We have been together for 44 years. Everyone will remember him as a man who made others laugh. A man who loved his family and friends. He wanted to contribute the best to everyone," said Mrs. Koutsis.
Relatives, friends and associates all praised Christos Koutsis first as human being and then as a professional. Part of the immigration wave of the '80s, he was born and raised in Athens, then traveled to the United States to continue his studies. He worked for the Ionian Shipping Company for four years, then worked with Atlantic Bank, then took a staff position at Marathon, remaining with the company after it was absorbed by Investors Bank, for about nine years.
An avid fan of Olympiacos F.C. of Piraeus, Greece, Koutsis will be remembered for his quick wit and humor, even during his illness, he kept up his high spirits.
"First of all, we are talking about a wonderful man. An authentic friend, full of generosity, ready to make a sacrifice for everyone. He was a personal friend of mine and his loss is terrible,” said the former president of Marathon Bank, Paul Stathoulopoulos, who noted the fact that the late Koutsis remained at his post until the last hour.
"Until the last moment, even with terrible pains, he was driving and coming in to the office. Work was part of his life, not just for a living. It was expressed through his works. It was all about how to serve customers and be helpful to his colleagues. We will feel his loss forever. A friend and excellent professional. Also, his family is one of the best I know,” said Stathoulopoulos, while Paul Kalamaras, Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer at Investors Bank, echoed the same sentiments.
"I met Christos when Investors Bank was absorbing Marathon Bank. He was a very dedicated professional who had developed an incredible relationship with the customers and the people of the company. He was a good man who cared a lot about his family. He would also go out of his way for the sake of others. I have never seen a person who bases so much on the other, in my entire career. We became good friends, I appreciated our friendship, he was wonderful, he and his family. I will miss him,” said Kalamaras with emotion.
Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce President Markos Drakotos also praised Koutsis, emphasizing that he was a "kind, compassionate man who loved his family."
"During the years that Christos Koutsis represented the Greek community, Investors Bank and the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, he was a kind, compassionate man, who loved his family very much and would help everyone. We have all suffered a great loss with his death. We need more people with his character, to guide us and unite us. This ability to bring people together was one of his many gifts, of great value in the world we live in. Our heartfelt condolences to his wife Cleopatra, his daughter Andrea, and his son Panos," Drakotos told TNH.
Besides his wife and children, Koutsis is survived by his sister Irene (Napoleon) Karentzou of Athens. He was a cherished uncle and cousin to many.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Koutsis' memory may be made to Lung Cancer Foundation of America, 15 South Franklin Street New Ulm, MN 56073.
The visitation will be held Wednesday, August 12, 9:45-10:45 AM at St. Athanasios Greek Orthodox Church, 51 Paramus Rd., Paramus, NJ, with the Funeral Service at 10:45 AM. Interment immediately following at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus.