The “Patriarch” of Greek American Community and World Hellenism passed away in his sleep. His funeral on Tuesday.
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Andrew A. Athens passed away in his sleep last Thursday at his home in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 91. He was active in the Greek National Causes until his last days. Archbishop Demetrios will preside at the funeral service, on Tuesday at 11:00 am, at Saints Peter & Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Glenview, IL (1401 Wagner Rd, 847-729-2235). According to a spokesman of the Greek Embassy a member of the Greek Government will be at his funeral, while Cyprus will be represented by the Charge-d’ Affaires of the Embassy in Washington. Condolences were sent by the Greek and Cypriot leadership, Members of Congress and Greek American organizations.
On Monday, March 18, 2013, visitation will take place from 5:00 – 9:00 pm, with Trisagion prayer service at 7:00 pm, On Tuesday, March 19, 2013, family and friends will meet at Saints Peter & Paul for visitation at 9:00 am until the time of the funeral service. Internment will take place at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, IL (9900 Gross Point Road, 847-677-4401).
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that all donations be made to the “Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund” in memory of Andrew A. Athens. Contributions may be sent to: Leadership 100, 645 Fifth Avenue, Suite 906, New York, NY 10022.
Those wishing to send condolences to the family can send them to:
c/o Paul Athens, Service Steel, 141-141 St., Hammond, IN 46327
Andrew A. Athens (Andreas Athanasoulas) was born in 1922 in Chicago, USA to immigrant parents. The name of his father was Aristides. His outstanding service to the Greek Community and the Orthodox Church placed him among the leading figures of the Greek Diaspora.
He served as President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) since its founding in 1995 and until December 2006 when the 6th World Assembly of SAE unanimously proclaimed him president emeritus.
Andrew Athens was an example of a man of vision, commitment and self-sacrifice that knows how to inspire and lead in struggles for the defense of the rights of the Greeks. He has approached each endeavor in his life with total commitment and hard work always tireless and lively characterized by his unwavering faith to his ideals and goals.
He was distinguished in WWII battlefronts as well as in the post-war effort for the reconstruction of Europe. As a US Army Captain he fought alongside the allied forces in Europe and the Middle East. After the war he was honored with the Bronze Star Medal and the US Army Commendation Medal, while he was commended by the Hungarian government for his contribution to the country’s rebuilding.
His successful business career was launched in 1950 with the founding of the Metron Steel Corporation, a particularly successful industry in the American Midwest that even today is one of the largest steelworks in the USA.
Athens became involved in Greek community affairs at an early age. He put his mark on all major initiatives in support of Hellenism and Orthodoxy in the United States and elsewhere. He led the efforts and successes of the Greeks abroad both under his capacity as a founding member or as a president of Greek community organizations and institutes.
He played a leading role in every struggle launched for the rights of the Greeks, for justice and peace in Greece and Cyprus, for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other Orthodox Patriarchates and for the Greeks who are in dire need, like those living in former Soviet Union countries, Albania and elsewhere. He occupied leadership offices in roughly 50 Greek community organizations and chambers of commerce in the US, Greece, Belgium and other countries.
Immediately after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, he played a leading role in establishing a Greek Lobby in Washington and founded the United Hellenic American Congress (UHAC), an organization with notable accomplishments and presence he still presides over. In this effort is assisted by the Washington-based National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) he has co-founded.
He was the “Leadership 100” Endowment Fund president emeritus. Athens was its founder and first president of the board (1986-1996). He has co-founded and chaired the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). For two decades (1974-1995) he was the president of the Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. He was the co-founder of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce and served as its president from 1991 to 1997.
Andrew Athens has won international recognition for his service to the community. Foreign governments, Orthodox Church Patriarchates, charitable organizations and production sector representatives around the world have honored him with over 42 awards, medals and distinctions.
He received the Greek State’s Gold Cross of the Order of the Phoenix (1977), the Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award (1977), the Cypriot Republic Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (1997), the US Congressional Medal of Honor (1993), the Georgia Republic Supreme Medal (2001), the Ukraine Parliament Medal (2003) and many more. In 1979, he was declared Knight of the Order of the Crown in Belgium.
He was the “Archon” of the Great Church of Christ, an Ecumenical Patriarchate honorary title conferred upon individuals honouring them for their service and dedication to the Church. He has also been honoured by other Orthodox Patriarchates and Churches for his tireless efforts defending religious freedom and human rights. He has received, among others, the Medal of the Supreme Taxiarch of the Holy Sepulchre, the “Athenagoras” Human Rights Award and the Gold Cross of the Holy Cross Seminary bestowed by Archbishop Iakovos.
In May 1979, he received the Church of Cyprus St Barnabas Gold Medal in recognition of his service to the people of Cyprus.
Over the past decade, since 1995 when the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) was founded Andrew Athens has traveled to all continents covering a distance of millions of miles in an effort to unite and strengthen the Greek communities abroad.
In 1997, he founded Hellenicare, a Primary Health Care Initiative and humanitarian assistance project which constitutes a lifeline of hope and example of selfless service to the human being. A total of seven medical care centres, established in former Soviet countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia) and Albania, offer free medical services to people of Greek and non Greek descent.
Andrew Athens was an excellent family man. He met his wife Louise during WWII. They had two children, a son and a daughter, and four grandchildren.