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George Boutsikaris and family. Photo: Courtesy of George Boutsikaris
NEW YORK – Greek-American George Boutsikaris, an active and hard-working member of the Greek-American community and for decades a subscriber of the National Herald celebrates a century of life on August 3.
Boutsikaris was born in Washington State in 1922 and his family’s history is characterized by upheavals and struggles through which it emerged stronger and managed to live a long life, prospering on both sides of the Atlantic.
According to his wife Efrosine, his family returned to Greece and Sidirokastro in Gytheio, when he was five years old. He already had five brothers, while over the years three more children were born. The reason they moved there was because his father had lost two brothers in the war and came back to support the rest of his family.
“At that time they worked in the fields. Also, my later father-in-law was a president in the community. They lived there until conditions were ripe for them to return to America. George moved here again in 1946 and then the rest of the family came,” says Mrs. Boutsikaris.
George Boutsikaris devoted himself to work and when he turned 39 he decided to get married. However, he preferred to travel to Greece in order to meet the chosen one of his heart. In 1961, his meeting with his wife now of six decades was a serendipitous event, she said.
“He came to Greece when I had lost my father and we were preparing for the 40-day memorial service. I lived in Theologos with one of my sisters, the other had left for Canada with her family. We went down to Sparta because we had the memorial next week. A friend of my father saw me and invited me to his house, without telling me the reason. When I went, George was there with his parents. They introduced him to me and said he was looking for a woman to marry. I was surprised. His mother encouraged him. We met, we got married, and in the end I followed him to America,” she said, noting the social habits of the time.
They moved to New Jersey, first to Newark and then to Union. George Boutsikaris worked for years in a large company based in New Jersey, but it moved to North Carolina. Although he was temporarily out of work, he nevertheless found a new professional home, until he took his pension at the age of 65, at which point he decided to settle down “and busy himself with the vlita” as his wife said.
The couple has two sons, John and Peter, and a daughter, Krystallo. They have three grandchildren from Peter, Melissa, Christopher and Nicole, and their grandparents made sure they could speak the Greek language.
“Our grandchildren are good kids and know Greek. I looked after them and took care of it. They speak the language, even if today they forget a few words. The whole family used to go to Greece, but now it’s more difficult for me, as I’m dealing with some health issues, of an orthopedic nature, and I’m having a hard time,” said Mrs. Boutsikaris, who describes her husband as a “good and calm person.”
“George is a calm person. He does not speak ill of anyone, even if provoked. He’s a good man and I’m not just saying that because he’s my husband. I know him well, we have already been married for 61 years,” she noted.
Finally, Mrs. Boutsikaris pointed out that her husband is informed daily by the National Herald about what’s going on in the Greek community, having been a subscriber for more than 40 years.
“It was, if I’m not mistaken, 40 years ago when I gave him a subscription to the National Herald as a gift. We still lived in Newark at that time. Since then, we have been non-stop subscribers,” concluded Mrs. Boutsikaris.
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