LYNN — There is now a black Mercedes parked askew right in front of the Pearly Gates. Nondas has arrived.
Nondas Lagonakis, 85, passed away peacefully in his beloved turquoise watered Greek island of Crete, on August 27th, 2021, after a brief illness. Born and raised in the beautiful and geologically famous Lassithi Plateau on July 25, 1936, Nondas grew to be a very smart, resourceful, ambitious, and determined young man whose passions were unbound by World War II and other life constraints which might have limited others.
Always an indefatigable worker, a teenaged Nondas helped his humble family prosper by toiling the olive groves of his native Crete, as many youngsters did in the early 1950’s. At the age of sixteen, those pearl-like olives lead him to meet another pearl, his beloved Adamantia (nee Kastrinakis), who at the time was thirteen and also worked in the olive harvest. He liked her and she liked him—instantaneously, according to later accounts. They kept their mutual affection to themselves but each of them later reminisced that they individually prayed and held the belief that divine intervention would grant their wish of spending their lives together once they grew older. God did not disappoint, and several years and a continent later, Nondas and Ada re-connected in the United States and eventually jubilantly married in 1961. They were further blessed by having four wonderful children in their many years together, Marina, Valerie, Angelo, and Maria—all of whom became, at the moments of their very births, lights in their lives.
Nondas had the gift of spotting opportunity in everything he saw. From his first days in the U.S., he began simultaneous employment in three different jobs for seven consecutive years, working around the clock with barely any sleep. One of his posts was in a restaurant, which inspired him to purchase a small roast beef sandwich eatery in Salem, Mass in 1968, Bill & Bob’s. The hardships through the years, the waves of challenges and spells of unfavorable economies were all mitigated by Nondas’ passion and the love of his life Ada, who worked adoringly and fervently by his side. Bill and Bob’s eventually grew into not only a local favorite eatery, but also into a chain of 12 establishments. Identifying opportunities in commercial real estate, Nondas expanded his family business portfolio extensively, always keeping a loving eye on his initial venture and favorite undertaking, Bill and Bob’s. The City of Salem, in light of his accomplishments and contributions to regional economic growth, recognized him as Business Person of the Year to much fanfare in 1986.
His hard work and savvy investments paid off yet the benefits never went unshared. Nondas’ philanthropic spirit knew no bounds, no borders. He gave his time, ideas, and donations to worthy causes worldwide, prioritizing his beloved Crete and the neighboring locations of his restaurants and properties, particularly Salem, Massachusetts, where he and Ada lived since 1970.
Among his most recognizable favored causes were Mass General North Shore-Salem Hospital, where he was a singled out as a great benefactor to the Cardiac Surgery Initiative; the Pan Cretan Association of America, which recently recognized him among its Great Benefactors; the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the Gerondelis Foundation, the Community Credit Union, among many other worthwhile entities. But it was the incalculable number of families whose children were ill, or who had experienced unpredictable or adverse life circumstances for whom Nondas most widely opened his wallet, the doors of his home, and his file of contacts, without regard to recognition, gratitude, or celebrity.
Nondas was a fervent and generous Greek Orthodox Christian, donating an entire new Cultural Center and bell tower in memory of his beloved Ada for her childhood parish in Crete. In the U.S., Nondas was also a communicant, patron, volunteer, and friend of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, of Lynn, Massachusetts, where he often arrived so early on busy church holidays, he was known to park his car in front of the church, sometimes on the sidewalk and a bit askew, thus making room for other parishioners.
Nondas was caring, thoughtful, and simply never slowed down. In 2017, however, after 56 years of marriage, Ada was called back by the same God who had granted them mutual and loving companionship. The blow of her passing was the saddest punctuation mark of Nondas’ life. His greatest joy after her death was exclusively spending time with his family in Crete and in the United States. Even up to his last days, Nondas remained a loving and doting father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, godfather, mentor, and friend to many. Eternal be his memory.
Nondas leaves his inconsolable family: his daughters Marina Kargakis and her husband George; Valerie Lagonakis; Maria Lagonakis-McNulty and her husband Conor; a son, Angelo Lagonakis and his wife Heather. He also leaves his adored grandchildren, Stefan Kargakis and his wife Monica Altamar, Nondas, and Jason Kargakis; Katerina Gerontis and her fiancé Alex Ypsilantis and Constantinos Gerontis; Alexandra, Nondas, and Demitrios Lagonakis; Arianna, Donovan, and Logan McNulty; and a one-year old charming great-grandchild, George Renée Kargakis. He is also survived by his brother Emmanuel and his wife Kalliope; and his sisters Christina, Foteini Galliotzakis, as well as many beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
A Funeral Service will be held on Monday at 11:00AM in St. George Greek Orthodox Church 54 South Common St., Lynn followed by burial in Pine Grove Cemetery. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. Visiting hours will be on Sunday from 4:00PM-8:00PM at the Solimine Funeral Home 67 Ocean St. (Rt 1A), Lynn; and again, on Monday September 20, from 10:00AM to 11:00AM, in the sanctuary of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, immediately prior to the services.
In lieu of flowers, those who prefer, may make donations in his memory to the Cardiology Department c/o Salem Hospital, Development Office 81 Highland Ave, Salem MA 01970, nsmcgiving.partners.org; or to the St. George Greek Orthodox Church 54 South Common Street, Lynn, MA 01902.