NEW YORK – Family and friends of George Patouhas gathered to bid farewell to his mortal remains, but as the Dean of St. Demetrios Cathedral Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos declared during the funeral in the Church of St. Catherine and St. George in Astoria, that is not where the beloved local merchant is to be found, rather, he is in Eternity, waiting for his loved ones to join him at the second coming of Christ.
With Patouhas’ wife Despina and their 7-year old daughter Paraskevi in the front row, this funeral was not what members of the community are used to.
The looks on their faces were different. The tears streaming down people’s eyes were different. Members of the congregation noted, with all due respect for the elderly, that the people who love George were not prepared to be separated from him before he lived a full life, seeing his daughter graduate from school, being married, and presenting him and his wife with grandchildren.
Patouhas’s death by stabbing on March 6 at the hands of James Dillon, long known to the neighborhood as a violent man, was sheer tragedy and senselessness.
Hundreds took the Friday morning off to honor their friend and demonstrate solidarity for the family.
The service was conducted by Fr. Nektarios, assisted by his predecessor, longtime Dean Fr. John Antonopoulos, Fr. Anastasios Pourakis and Fr. Dionysios Koulianos.
The sympathy for Despina Patouhas and their daughter Paraskevi was also moving. Greg Christakis told TNH, “she was the sweetest woman. She couldn’t do enough for her students,” of which his son was one in the pre-K program.
When the casket was closed the bells and began to toll, tears revealed just a little bit of the pain caused by the premature departure of George Patouhas, but the love in the Church the faith of the congregation ensure his memory is eternal.