Peter T. Kourides, general counsel for the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America for 60 years, died Tuesday evening. He was 99 ½ years old.
Mr. Kourides practiced law for 70 years in New York City with the firm of Seward, Raphael & Kourides. Throughout his long career, he focused his energies on the work of helping the Greek Orthodox Church organize in this country. Committed to the goal of bringing the Church into the mainstream of American society, Mr. Kourides served as counsel for three archbishops and organized and presided over numerous high-level Church congresses. During his years as general counsel, the Church grew to become one of the major faiths in the United States.
Peter Kourides was born in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), Turkey in 1910 and immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1912. On the Atlantic crossing, his ship, the SS Patris, rescued survivors from the Titanic. After attending primary and secondary school in Manchester, New Hampshire, Mr. Kourides went on to graduate from Columbia College and Columbia University Law School.
Whether acting as personal counsel for the late Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I and for the late Archbishop Iakovos, serving as Vice-President of the National Council of Churches, authoring books on the Church, or presiding for 40 years over the Archdiocesan Council’s biennial congresses of clergy and laity, Mr. Kourides proved masterful at helping the Church reach out in new directions while consolidating its internal stability.
In addition to his work with the National Council of Churches, Mr. Kourides extended the ecumenical role of the Church through his membership on the Commission of International Affairs of the World Council of Churches in Geneva and through his participation in three general assemblies of the World Council of Churches. He served as counsel to the World Conference of Religion for Peace and participated in its first general assembly at Kyoto, Japan in 1971.
In 1967, King Constantine II of Greece decorated Mr. Kourides with the Gold Cross of the Order of Phoenix in recognition of his work on behalf of the Church.
His son, P. Nicholas Kourides, his daughter, Dr. Ione A. Kourides, and seven grandchildren survive Mr. Kourides. His wife, the late Anne S. Kourides, predeceased him in 1974.
Archbishop Demetrios of America issued the following statement:
“On behalf of the Holy Eparchial Synod and the Clergy and Lay Faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, I express our profound grief at the passing of Archon Megas Nomophylax Peter Kourides. For the majority of the history of the Holy Archdiocese of America as an institution, Peter Kourides was a guiding and driving force in the legal and institutional affairs of the Archdiocese. He began his service to the Archdiocese under the ever-blessed late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras when he was Archbishop of America. His service continued to the ever-memorable Archbishop Michael, and for 37 years, he was the most trusted advisor of the late Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory. Always diligent and faithful in his pursuit of the interests and benefit of the Archdiocese, he has fallen asleep in the Lord at the age of 99, with a life full of service and accomplishment. We pray for his family, that they shall know the comfort of God during their hour of mourning, and that they shall also know the assurance of life eternal, granted to all through the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. May He grant unto His good and faithful servant Peter eternal rest.”
Funeral services will be on Monday, February 22 at 11 AM at the Archdiocesan Cathedral, 319 East 74th Street, Manhattan, New York. Visitation at Frank E. Campbell, 1076 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York on Sunday, February 21 from 6 to 9PM. Internment will be at Greenwood Union Cemetery, Rye, New York.