DETROIT, MI – George Keros, 87, passed away in Naperville, IL, on January 24. According to his son, Bill, the cause of death was acute congestive heart failure, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.
“It’s very saddening,” his son told Crain’s. “My dad was a hell of a character.”
Keros was born and raised in Detroit, where his parents settled after immigrating to the United States from Greece. From age 10, Keros worked in his father William’s restaurant, the Lafayette Coney Island, founded by the elder Keros in the 1910’s according to Crain’s.
“At the time, the place was bursting at the seams 24/7,” Bill Keros told Crain’s. “What that meant was that he would work under madhouse conditions ’til 4 a.m., then take the streetcar home. Then he would march into my grandfather’s room and slam the receipts on his chest and say, ‘That’s what I was doing while you were sleeping’ — at the age of 10!”
After high school, Keros studied business administration at the University of Michigan, where he also played on the football and baseball teams.
Keros fought in the Korean War, receiving two Bronze Stars for valor in combat, and stayed on to provide humanitarian assistance to devastated rural communities in Korea and Japan before returning to the States.
According to his obituary, following the war, Keros traveled the country for years, developing the production capacity for a product that would soon be known as particle board. He provided the seed funding for the development of a new technology called microfiche, helping to negotiate the sale of this technology to Bell and Howell.
Later, he funded advanced scientific research in the Ann Arbor area, fostering the development of synthetic crystals for laser-guided munitions, X-ray calibration machines, fire-detection systems for army battle tanks, and integration software for the U.S. Navy and the Social Security Administration. He also partnered with the inventor of deep space communications to use satellites for oil exploration, taking advantage of their distance from the earth to scan much larger areas of the planet’s surface in search of hydrocarbon reserves.
A film he helped finance and distribute, Mondo Cane, was nominated for an Oscar, a Grammy, and the Palme d’Or at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.
Keros eventually took over his father’s business and operated it until 1990, when he transferred the restaurant to its employees. The Lafayette, as it is known, continues to operate in its original location in downtown Detroit.
In 1985, George and his family moved to Hopkinton, NH, and he later opened an office in Concord, where he continued developing his business ventures. Being a small business owner himself, George valued supporting the locally owned shops and restaurants on Main Street, and he became known for frequenting them and getting to know their owners and employees. In 2017, he moved to Naperville, IL, about an hour outside of Chicago, to be with his eldest daughter Leslie.
From an early age, George exhibited his father’s entrepreneurial spirit. His interests were broad: from astrophysics, history, and nineteenth-century literature to classical and big band music, state-of-the-art technologies, and international affairs. George loved to travel overseas for business and pleasure with his family and enjoyed hosting distinguished scientists, academics, and other foreign visitors in his home, both in Michigan and in New Hampshire.
A loving, dedicated husband and father, George was predeceased by his wife, Mary, his daughter Serena Mary, and his brother Anthony. He is survived by his brother John, five children, and five grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held in Detroit. Visitation at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 1368 N. Crooks Road (between 14-15 Mile Rds.) Clawson, on Friday, February 1, 3-8 PM. A Funeral Service will take place at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 43816 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, Saturday, February 2 at 11:30 AM. Friends may visit at church beginning at 11 AM. Burial with military honors will take place in Hopkinton, NH, in the spring.
(Material from the Concord Monitor obituary, published Jan. 29, was used in this report)