Nicosia.- Well-known Cypriot businessman George Paraskevaides died Wednesday in The London Clinic. He was 91. Paraskevaides was one of the owners of one of the biggest development companies in the world, Joannou and Paraskevaides, and continuously demonstrated his care for his fellow citizens through financial support for medical treatment. He also helped promote Cypriot culture.
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos expressed in a written statement his profound and sincere grief for Paraskevaidesʼ death, noting that Cyprus owes a lot to him.
“He was a model of humanity, dignity and kindness. He offered a lot in a selfless way to those who needed help and was a benefactor for Cyprus, serving his country with patriotism,” the statement said.
“He leaves behind him charity work for which he will be dearly remembered as a man of high moral standards,” he added.
Paraskevaides was born in Athens in 1916. Soon after his birth he moved with his family to Cyprus, where he excelled in his studies at the Pancyprian Gymnasium of Nicosia. He completed his formal education in architecture at the Milan Polytechnic, Italy, at the outbreak of World War II.
Despite the minimal construction activity carried out in Cyprus during the war, George Paraskevaides formed the contracting and civil engineering firm Joannou & Paraskevaides, in association with Mr. Stelios Joannou, today one of the biggest development companies in the world.
J&P has certainly come a long way since 1941 when it started working on projects for the British war effort.
By 1961, J&P began to venture abroad, targeting first North Africa and then the Middle East. It now has a well-established international presence covering large parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
J&P employs thousands of people, a world-wide team of qualified professionals. It also maintains an important social policy to give something back to the community. This includes the George and Thelma Paraskevaides Foundation which sends sick Cypriot children to the US for medical care.
J&P’s most notable projects include, the Seeb International Airport which was completed in 1976. Also the company has worked on: King Fahd International Airport which was completed in 1983, Abu Dhabi International Airport finished in 1981. The Rio-Antirio bridge, done in 2006, and the A1 Highway (Cyprus), completed in 1984. The companyʼs worldwide operations are controlled by head offices in Nicosia (Cyprus), Athens (Greece) and London (UK).
Beyond J&P, the Paraskevaides Group includes Cosmos Developers in Cyprus and Greece and GP Homes in the US, medical distributors Phadisco, consumer goods distributors Christodoulides Bros, EP Global Energy and maintains interests in Pepsi Co. bottling plants and KFC franchises in Cyprus and the region, as well as hotels in Cyprus and Greece.
In 2006 the journal Engineering News-Record ranked J&P as the 41st largest international contractor.
The George and Thelma Paraskevaides Foundation has formed links with Shriners Hospital in Springfield, MA, and Children’s Heart Fund Hospital in Minneapolis and has provided numerous scholarships for less fortunate Cypriots. Paraskevaides founded the Cyprus Kidney Association, the Surgical and Transplant Foundation and the Cyprus Heart Association.
Paraskevaides received several prestigious honors, including the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) by Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Oman III, Class Civil by Sultan Qaboos of Oman, the Rotary Foundation Medal, and the Medal of Merit of the Lions International Club of Nicosia, the St. Paul’s Medal by the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of North and South America, and the St. Marcus Medal by the Pontifice.
He was an honorary citizen of Nicosia and received the Golden Apple Award from Mayor Edward Koch, of New York. He was awarded the Aristotelian Award by the Greek-American Organization AHEPA, the Person of the Year for 1986 by the Hellenic-American Neighborhood Action Committee, and Distinguished Hellene Award by the Hellenic Medical Society of New York and the Freedom Award of the Pancyprian Association of America.
In a speech placed on the Congressional Record, on June 1991, Congressman Edward Feighan said:
“Mr. Paraskevaides has often been offered highest official positions in Cyprus but has continuously refused them because of his belief that he can better serve his country through his business associates and his international relations. His idea that his Cypriot employees overseas constitute ambassadors of their country is a lesson for all of us interested in fostering international cooperation and good will. And it is our fervent hope that the message they bring about Cyprus will educate more people and help to create an atmosphere that will soon end the tragic division of that beautiful island”.