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General News

Greek-American Christos T. Panopoulos, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Archon, 86

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Christos T. Panopoulos, accomplished entrepreneur, avid golfer, grateful philanthropist, shrewd card player, nature lover, proud patriot, faithful servant and true family patriarch, is now at rest. He passed away on April 5 at the age of 86.

Panopoulos was the first of five children born to Theodoros and Athanasia Panopoulos, in Dara, Arcadia, Greece on January 1, 1936. Before he immigrated to the United States at the age of 19, he survived two wars which provided the context for many of his most formative experiences. He was sponsored by his Uncle Xenophon (Panopoulos) Payne, in Chicago where he started to build his American dream. After working various jobs while learning English, he earned his United States citizenship and attained his cosmetology degree, eventually taking over a small salon in The Pantlind Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI. He married Joan Vallas in 1964 and together with their parents, they built Salon Enterprises, which included Panopoulos Salons, Haircuts Plus, and CHIC Cosmetology Schools. Success with this business afforded them the opportunity to bring his siblings to America to create their own destinies.

Panopoulos was involved in many community organizations including the Grand Valley University Foundation and Metro Health Foundation. He was honored to be inducted into the West Michigan Businessman Hall of Fame in 2004. Panopoulos was an Archon of the Greek Orthodox Church and a member of Leadership 100. He was an outdoorsman who tended to his garden, hunted, fished, and golfed at every opportunity. He appreciated good food and wine, devoured fresh figs (often from his own trees), and celebrated every occasion. He loved his native Greece, but he was a proud American, often heard proclaiming “God Bless America!” Though Chris was proud of his business, his true loves were his church community, his many friends and, above all, his family.

A courageous fighter to the end, Panopoulos battled cancer successfully for many years, against all odds. He faced that obstacle with the courage, determination, optimism, and perseverance that defined his entire life.

Panopoulos is survived by a loving family including his devoted wife of 57 years Joan, his daughters Paula (late Mark) Hurd, Thania Panopoulos, Alicia (Evan) Magas and Christa (Jason) Bird. He adored his seven grandchildren: Kelly (Tommy), Kathryn, Nicholas, Jenna, Christos, Sophia, Thano, and his great-grandson, Cooper. He is also survived by his brother Demetrios (Chrysoula) Panopoulos, his sister Iota (George) Mourloukos, his brother-in-law John Pappas, his sister-in-law Connie Vassiliades (late Tony), and many nieces and nephews. Panopoulos’ friends from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Cascade Hills, southern California, and Salon Enterprises were like family to him as well. Panopoulos was preceded in death by his parents, Athanasia and Theodoros Panopoulos, his sister Lola Pappas, and his brother Panos Panopoulos.

He lived with great faith, gratitude, and an infectious love of life. His family thanks God for his many years and feels blessed beyond measure for the life he and Joan created, the opportunities they provided, and the community they served. May his memory be eternal.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, April 10, 3-7 PM.  Funeral Service will be held on Monday, April 11, 11 AM.  Both the visitation and funeral service will be held at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 330 Lakeside Drive NE.  Burial service will be private for the family.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes most your prayers and love. Donations may be made to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church c/o Chris Panopoulos Memorial, 330 Lakeside Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, or to Grand Valley University c/o Chris Panopoulos Memorial, 301 Fulton West, PO Box 1945, Grand Rapids, MI 49501.

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