NEW YORK — Peter M. Dion, the last remaining Founding Member of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Fund, passed away on September 11 in Palm Beach, Florida. Along with Arthur Anton, Andrew Athens, Thomas Athens, George Chimples, Michael Jaharis and George Kokalis, all of Blessed Memory, he joined Archbishop Iakovos of Blessed Memory to form the organization in 1984. He served as Chairman of the Nominating Committee for six years and remained a member of the Committee up to his passing.
Based in New York, Peter Dion was a distinguished designer, manufacturer, and wholesaler of fine fur garments. Born in Greece under the name Peter Dionisiou, he immigrated to the United States in the early 1950's. He changed his legal name to "Dion" in 1973. Dion began his career at the New York firm of Hiller and Becker, a renowned manufacturer of fur garments, and his talents soon became apparent. In 1974 the firm began to manufacture coats under the Peter Dion label. Eventually Dion became the owner of the business and changed its name to Peter Dion, Inc. Later, he acquired Yarmuth Furs, Inc., a fur jobber, and called it Yarmuth-Dion, Inc. He maintained a long association with Nieman-Marcus, which distributed his furs and had a personal relationship with Stanley Marcus, its long-time president and chairman of the board.
In 1982 Peter Dion and James Galanos, a leading fashion designer, entered into an agreement under which Dion manufactured fur garments designed by Galanos. Galanos, also a member of Leadership100, who passed away in 2016, said of Dion, "I liked what he had to say. What he wanted to do with me was on the highest level, and he offered me the best skins, the best furs. They treated me like royalty.”
Dion in an interview at the 25th Anniversary of Leadership 100 in 2009, recalled the inaugural meeting of the organization in Denver, CO in 1984 and how it managed to go beyond the initial, very optimistic, goal of 10 members to 18! “That evening in Denver my wife and my daughters became members. And of course, so did the rest of the founders. When we left Denver, we had 18 members! And they all paid the full amount of $100,000! And for some time, we had to pay for operating expenses from our pockets,” he said. He added, “I am so proud to be a founding member of this organization and to be a Greek American. I came from the old country with no shoes and to me it means a lot to be part of this and to have helped start an organization like this.”
A humble and beloved man throughout the Greek American Community and among many others throughout the country, Dion, was a renowned philanthropist and supporter of the St. Paul’s Cathedral in Hempstead, St. Mark Church in Boca Raton and St. Catherine Church in West Palm Beach. He was an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and was awarded the St. Paul Medal by Archbishop Iakovos, the highest honor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. As a Founding Member, he was a recipient of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Excellence.
Dion is survived by his wife Diana of 59 years, his daughter Harriet, his grandchildren Alexander, Diana and Christina. He was predeceased by his daughter, Bessi and his two sisters, Olga and Panorea.