It is with profound sadness that the family of Constantinos “Costas” Halaris announces his sudden passing on June 16, 2020 at the age of 76.
Costas was born August 15, 1943 in Thessaloniki, Greece to Spyros and Elpida (Digenakis) Halaris. He lived most of his childhood in Spetses, Greece, an island in the Saronic Gulf famous for its significant contribution to the Greek War of Independence. In the 1960’s he emigrated to America along with his mother and siblings and settled in Astoria, Queens. He met the love of his life, Mária Athanassiades, and they were married in New York City in 1970. One year later Costas graduated from Iona College with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. Costas and Mária had two daughters and moved to Westbury, New York to raise their family in the suburbs.
Costas was an entrepreneur at heart with an incredibly strong worth ethic. Highlights of his ventures were owning and operating Johnny’s Italian restaurant, managing a Nathan’s franchise, working as a building superintendent, and taking on extra jobs as needed to support his family. He ultimately joined Krinos Foods, a major North American importer of Greek and other Mediterranean foods, where he had a successful 39 year sales career.
His greatest joys in life were simple pleasures: cooking, gardening, playing poker, making people laugh, and doting on his daughters and five grandchildren he so adored. Ingenuity ruled his day, as he tinkered and toiled until things were just right, fixing items with a touch of electrical tape and infusing new life into the discarded with just a little imagination. His flowers and garden bloomed prolifically, nurtured with a zest for life. Always reinventing the landscape, he transplanted trees and shrubs and boulders with his strong hands, and tended to his home with immaculate precision.
He was with us for 76 years, but his energy, stamina and drive gave him double that time. Rarely sleeping a full night, his driveway and stoop would be cleared of snow before the crack of dawn. And, oh, did he know how to prepare for a storm. But the feasts ruled the day. The consummate host, he would prepare the menu days in advance, always ensuring enough food for five times his guests.
He recently had met his archnemesis, the Google Pixel phone. He had been the first to carry a cell phone in the late 1980’s, when they still practically came in briefcases, but in recent months, he longed for the simplicity of his former flip-phone that wouldn’t dial others unexpectedly; he constantly threatened to go back to the flip (it’s still sitting in the kitchen drawer). Craving the opportunity to show telemarketers that they could not fool him, he would often string them along for dozens of minutes before revealing his savvy and turning the tides on them. His complete and updated knowledge of every deal in every aisle of Costco and Home Depot were without rival. People knew and recognized him everywhere and they noticed him, because he weaved himself into the fabric of every community he touched with his gentle soul and quick wit.
With his job requiring hours in the car, he could calculate the estimated time of arrival before the advent of any GPS, and was usually accurate to the minute. The ultimate Uber driver before Uber existed, he would fly to New Orleans just to make the twenty-four-hour drive back to bring his daughter home from school. He refused to let anyone ever take a taxi to or from the airport; not only would he insist on picking you up any time of day or night; he would also have refreshments in the car upon your arrival. Whenever anyone needed help, the answer was yes, even when it meant suffering through the dizzy rides at a Carnival through his motion sickness so his grand-daughter would not be disappointed. He could not attend a funeral without laughing, he could not sit still in a church pew without cracking jokes, and he certainly could not stay in his seat on a plane. In constant motion, his energy and enthusiasm for life and his innate ability to make others feel comfortable and to laugh, always to laugh, broke the tension in any room.
His blue eyes twinkled with pride in watching his children and grandchildren grow, never missing the milestone graduations and important recitals but also relishing the simplicity of watching a soccer practice from afar. He could see the future in his grandchildren, and he beamed with joy not only at the birth of each one, but also at the people he was beginning to see them becoming.
Costas left behind a legacy of caring for others and was the epitome of selflessness. He gave everything he had to make sure those around him had everything they needed. He never did it for acknowledgement; he did it out of pure love for others. He is survived by his wife, Mária, siblings Antony, Theoni and Makis, daughters Daphne and Elpida, sons-in-law Frank and Julio, grandchildren Lucas, Jake, Kallista, Zoe and Zachary, numerous nieces and nephews, and by the countless people whose lives he brightened whenever their paths crossed. We will remember him in our hearts and minds forever.
Private Family Interment. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Costas’ honor to https://www.stjude.org/ or https://kellsieshopefoundation.com/