FORT LEE, NJ – Ioannis (Yannis) Papaioannou took his biggest trip (To Megalo Taxidi) on December 26. He was 67.
Papaioannou fought with all his heart and might, almost more than humanly possible, but finally succumbed to a relentless cancer. He was surrounded by his family and left in peace and is now protecting all his loved ones from above.
Anyone who knew Yanni, from his closest of friends and family to those who only met him once or twice have echoed the exact same sentiments: “Yanni was a special man, always kind, always smiling, always thinking of others before himself.” He just wanted to make everyone else happy. All adored him and loved him.
Papaioannou was born in Pyrgos, Greece, on February 12, 1954. His favorite childhood memories are of his summers in his family’s home village of Kato Samiko in Peloponnesos.
His working career began in the travel industry in Athens, and on a whim one night a friend asked him to come to the U.S. to oversee his travel operation in Washington DC in the early 1980s. After a very successful running of the company, he was invited by his future father-in-law (unbeknownst to anyone at the time) to come to New York City to join his company, Tourlite International. That’s where he met his future wife, Valerie. Papaioannou was a tireless, successful, respectful, and respected gentleman who was admired by all in the travel industry both here and abroad.
His life was dedicated to his family, always putting his wife and children, Isidora and Niko, first. As a husband, Papaioannou gave of his entire being. It was always, whatever Valerie likes. He adored her and was her true partner. He was a hands-on father, always guiding and teaching his children to be more complete people, to take care of others and find joy in the happiness of the people around him, to trust themselves, be confident, strong and to treat everyone with the same respect. That was Yanni!
He had a special bond with all his family, especially his cousins Angelo and Kosta, who were like brothers to him. His extraordinary respect for his in-laws, Nicholas and Thalia Athans, was admired by all. He would always say: “Whatever you want.”
He traveled to many places in the world and was able to experience a rich and full life before it was taken so early.
Thankfully, he was given the gift to make one last trip this past September with Valerie to his beloved Greece, where he spent time with his daughter, Isidora, went to his home village to visit with all his family, stayed in his seaside home in Vouliagmeni, which became his newly adopted home, and visited family and friends in Athens for one last time.
Papaioannou was able to take his son, Niko, to begin his freshman year at the University of Michigan and even take a trip for parents’ weekend in early November. It was another blessing for him and his family.
Papaioannou is survived by his wife, Valerie, daught