His parents brought him from the island of Nisyros to New York at the age of 6 months. To raise him, his father worked in restaurants, in the usual jobs of a Greek immigrant. Hard but honest, though with small rewards.
John Catsimatidis was accepted to NYU, a demanding, since then, University, and at the same time he worked in a supermarket to make ends meet.
However, he was soon making more than his expenses, and this led him to conclude that if he pursued this job, in supermarkets, he would earn much more than he would as a university graduate. So he left the University, shortly before completing the courses he needed to get his degree – he wanted to be an engineer – to devote himself to this work.
He worked very hard and had the foresight to buy often run-down supermarket properties. His company, Red Apple, grew in size and became probably the largest supermarket chain in Manhattan. Then he also bought the Gristedes chain.
And then he entered the large and lucrative markets of energy, real estate, etc. Even the media – at one point he bought the Hellenic Times, and recently he bought the WABC (AM) radio station.
This week, Forbes magazine ranked him as the richest Greek-American, with a fortune that rose in one year from $3.7 to $4.1 billion. He now ranks as the 261st richest American.
Of course, Catsimatidis is not the only Greek who emerged from a humble family and the modest economic base of immigrants and reached so high that he possesses an unspeakable fortune. There are others who achieved the American dream in its most ideal form.
And he is not the only one who has remained faithful to his origin, his religion, his culture.
However, he stands out. He is perhaps the most well-known Greek-American in New York – certainly from the time he pursued the lofty position of Mayor of New York. And that’s because Catsimatidis doesn’t hide his Hellenism. He projects it.
He is the expatriate who stands at the side of the Community and Greece.
Surely his parents would be especially proud of their son.
And justifiably so. So are we. He has our warmest congratulations.