John James Vlachos, of Kingston, MA, formerly a long-term resident of Watertown and East Bridgewater, MA, passed away on July 15. Son of the late James T. and Arete (Alice) Vlachos. Loving husband of Betty Ann (Knell) Vlachos. Devoted father of Doreen Keyes and her husband Andrew, of Marlborough, Leslie Bastarache and her husband Maurice, of Wayland, John Vlachos and his wife Gail, of Woburn, and Christopher Vlachos and his wife Michelle, of Kingston.
John was a proud grandfather of Jonathan and Brendan Keyes, Zachary, Juliette, and Lucas Bastarache, Johnny and Christina Vlachos, and Meredith, Madisen and Mackenzie Vlachos.
He was the cherished brother of Elaine Sophia Vlachos, Joy Vlachos O'Malley, Dorothy G. Vlachos Contos and her husband, Harris, and Harry J. Vlachos and his wife, Stacey Agretelis, the late George J. Vlachos, and the late Theodore J. Vlachos.
He was the admired brother-in-law of Warren Knell and his late wife, Marylou, the late Robert and Cathy Knell, the late Lloyd and Marjorie Knell, the late Richard and Beverly Knell, the late Shirley and Harry Cornick, the late Irving Knell, and the late David and Jean Knell. In addition, he was the adored uncle to many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and cousins.
John attended Watertown High School and was affectionately called ‘Greek’, referencing his Greek heritage. John was co-captain of the 1950 football squad, playing center and line-backer positions. He was a stand-out athlete who received many accolades as a member of the 1950 Massachusetts All-Scholastic Football Team as voted by the Eastern Massachusetts Coaches Association for the Record-American newspaper (now called the Boston Herald). In 1951, he received the All-Scholastic Award for Outstanding Athletic Ability and Sportsmanship by Boston Sports Radio Station WCOP. In 2001, John was inducted into the Watertown Athletic Hall of Fame.
John was recruited by many colleges to play football, including Southern Methodist University, but opted instead to delay college and join the U.S. Marine Corp. After Camp Pendleton, at just 17-years-old, John was shipped out to Korea to serve in the Korean Conflict. John was seriously wounded three times in battle and was the recipient of three Purple Hearts. Upon returning home, John married his sweetheart, Betty, on September 12, 1954. Thus began their 67-year love story!
John's war injuries prevented him from playing contact sports, consequently ending his aspirations for a college football career. Instead, John trained in aeronautics and aircraft maintenance at the East Coast Aero Tech School. However, when his parents encountered health problems, he decided to take over the family's restaurant, The Waltham Spa Luncheonette. When the Mercantile Building was torn down in 1978, the restaurant moved to Moody and Crescent Streets and the new Waltham Spa was born! With his loyal wife and family by his side, John served the community for the next 28 years. He was a beloved boss, mentor, and friend to countless customers, waitresses, cooks, and dishwashers. He was good to everybody!
John's love of sports continued with his very active participation in the Watertown Youth Hockey program, in which his sons, John and Chris, were players. For twenty years, John was an instrumental and guiding force in the development and success of the program. Throughout the years, John and Betty spent hundreds of hours in various rinks throughout the state cheering on their sons, and later on, their grandchildren. Whether it is was chauffeuring or cheerleading, they were a familiar sight at their grandkids’ hockey, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and track & field events! True fans to the end!
John was a true patriot. He was proud to be a Marine, proud to have served his country, proud to be a Greek-American, and so very proud of his family. ‘John’, ‘Yianni’, ‘Dad’, ‘Papa’ will be greatly missed. Semper Fi.
Due to the pandemic and the family’s care and concern for family and friends, the funeral services and burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations in John’s memory may be made to the Semper Fi Fund at www.semperfifund.org.