NEW YORK – The loss of the eminent philanthropist Dimitrios Kaloidis left sadness and a great void in the Greek Diaspora. He passed away at the age of 85 on September 17.
Those who knew Dimitri Kaloidis characterize him as a humble, hospitable and warm man – who always wanted to give.
Speaking about the death of Kaloidis, Archbishop Elpidophoros said, “the life of Dimitri was a life of success – but also a life of sacrifice and generosity to the Church and to God. He was a man full of love – which was supplemented by the wisdom and love of his wife. Mr. Kaloidis’ story will be written in golden letters in the history textbooks of Hellenism and on the pages of the hearts of all those who were lucky enough to know him and benefit from him.”
His friend and business partner for 22 years, George Makkos (co-owner of Terrace on the Park), spoke to The National Herald about the benefactor and philanthropist who offered much to the Greek-American community.
“We are all devastated by his death,” he said. “Our thoughts are with his wife, Georgia. Dimitri was a remarkable person and a true friend. He was a great benefactor and philanthropist – a pillar of the Greek-American community. We worked in the same office every day and I will miss him very much – his thoughts, his love. He leaves a big void in our hearts.”
Makkos added, “he was always straightforward, a gentleman in his dealings, and an excellent family man. The donations he made to the Greek community are many and will remain in perpetuity. He leaves behind a legacy of works.”
The head of the afternoon division of the Greek School of Holy Cross School in Brooklyn, Eleftheria Oikouta, noted the significant donations to that particular school, which bears both his and his wife’s name. “We are overwhelmed. A hospitable man, intimate, approachable, humble despite his exterior affluence. He had a child-like spirit. He always embraced you. The humble Greek had remained.”
She emphasized Kaloidis’ appreciation for Greek language and culture, and his constant contributions to the school. “It’s as if a pillar of the school is gone. We knew all the time, during any difficulty, how close he was to us. His and his wife’s concern for the Greek language is enormous. He gave our school a shot in the arm, a vital tonic during our year of financial hardship in 1995. I wish there were others like Dimitris Kaloidis to help other schools not close,” she said, adding, “but he did not stop with that contribution. He showed his support in many ways and he was always been close to the community.”
Oikouta told The National Herald that, “a week ago the students of the school made a video for the start of the school year with the national anthem, dances and songs, and we sent it to Greece for Dimitris Kaloidis to see.”
PESKA President Philip Christopher said of Caloidis’ death: “The Hellenic Republic has lost a great benefactor and patriot. The Cypriot community in particular is mourning the death of a dear friend and comrade.”
At the age of 21, in 1955, Dimitrios Kaloidis immigrated from Petrina in Laconia to America on the Olympia ocean liner. He started working at a flower shop in Manhattan and then at a restaurant in Brooklyn as a busboy. After a short period of time, he opened his own small restaurant.
In 1963 his future wife Georgia came to America. Although they both originate from Laconia, they met not in Greece, but thousands of miles from their homeland, and they were married in 1974. As he had stated in the Kathimerini newspaper, “we did not have children of our own, but our children are all the children of the Community who are in need.” He loved Greece very much and spent more and more time there in recent years, and he chose recently to return to his beloved homeland.