CHICAGO – Demetrios Zemenides, EOKA fighter, longtime member of PSEKA (International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus) and the Greek Cypriot community in Illinois, passed away on August 6. He was 78.
His son, Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) Executive Director Endy (Afxentios) Zemenides who followed in his father’s footsteps promoting the Greek and Cypriot national issues in the United States, spoke to The National Herald about his father, “In this life, everyone is trying to win the lottery. I won it since I was born, because I had this father.”
“I learned the Greek values, for which we give our lives, from this man. His friends said he loved life. I told my friends that the words that described him were love and charity," said Zemenides.
Demetrios Zemenidis was born in 1942 in Cyprus in what is now the Occupied Territories and experienced the most intense moments of the modern history of Cyprus, during the Turkish invasion in 1974. He joined EOKA at the age of 14, while he served for three years in the National Guard. In 1967, he came to the U.S. where he studied architecture. While there, he met his future wife, Irene, they married and later moved to Cyprus. One year after their return, the invasion took place.
“My mother was pregnant with my brother. My father put her, along with me, 18 months old at the time, in a boat that American citizens were getting on. He himself, although an American, did not board, but returned to fight. At the end of 1974, we met again as a family in Chicago and started our life here,” recalled Endy Zemenides, who added that “as Philip Christopher said, he was a fighter. He started the fight as a small child and did not stop.”
Demetrios Zemenidis was involved in the events and activities of the Greek Cypriot community in Chicago. He was a member of PSEKA and for many years president of the Illinois Cypriot Brotherhood, while he also played an active role on the parish council of Holy Taxiarchai and St. Haralambos Church in Chicago.
“He liked music very much, and was a member of the Association Choir. My grandfather wanted him to be a priest. My father was more into popular music. He loved songs and especially Theodorakis,” Endy Zemenides remembers.
The Executive Director of HALC emphasizes that his father set a good example for him and his two brothers, Fotis and Panagiotis (Peter), urging them to seek the cultivation of their spirit.
"He was a philanthropist, but he did not limit himself to giving a check to a charitable effort. He wanted to work. He took us with him, when we were children, to go and feed the poor. He told us that philosophy is not just about having knowledge. He taught us to ask the right questions. He also taught us to read Elytis, Cavafy, and American writers. He always took us with him, he made us feel a responsibility to Hellenism, the homeland and the family. Above all, he taught us how to be the head of a family, how to love, and how to be loved,” said Zemenides.
A visitation was held Tuesday, August 11, at Holy Taxiarhai and Saint Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, 7373 N Caldwell Ave, Niles, IL. Funeral services will be held at the church on Wednesday, August 12 with family only. Interment at Memorial Park Cemetery. For more information please call 773-736-3833.
Friends are invited to live stream the service either on the St. Haralambos Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Holy-Taxiarhai-St-Haralambos-Greek-Orthodox-Church-112062108848640/ or on YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu5QLtyaKZI5JtARnsnli6Q/videos.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Hellenic American Leadership Council's Beirut Relief Fund or Project HOPE (a project of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago to feed the hungry) at the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, 555 E. Butterfield Road, Suite 201, Lombard, IL, 60148.