Andreas Kamilaris, a Cyprus-born master mason recognized for his daily presence at his sons’ downtown Toledo restaurant Georgio’s Cafe International, died Saturday in Regency Hospital, Sylvania.
He was 87.
He had pneumonia and suffered health problems the last three years after having a stroke, his family said.
Mr. Kamilaris was born on the Mediterranean Sea island to a poor family. When he was very young, his father left for the United States to find work during the Great Depression and sent money home.
The eldest of three children, Andreas went to work when he was 12 after completing sixth grade. He laid marble, a popular flooring choice in the Mediterranean climate, and became skilled in the craft over roughly four decades in Cyprus, his son George Kamilaris said.
“He was very smart,” he said, adding that his father passed on his knowledge about how to manage money and avoid debt.
In 1957, Mr. Kamilaris married his wife Maroulla in Cyprus and they had three children there.
In the early 1960s, his grandmother gave him her Cyprus house, and, in a testament to his business savvy, he knocked it down and built a small shopping strip, his son said. Military fighting broke out in Cyprus, spurring the family’s decision to come to the United States in the mid-1970s. The family moved to Toledo because Mr. Kamilaris’ brother Sotris, who helped arrange for the relocation, was part-owner of Rudy’s Hot Dog. Mr. Kamilaris helped out at the restaurant before retiring in 1986 when his sons opened Georgio’s on North Superior Street in Toledo.
“The weather [in Toledo] was a big shock,” George Kamilaris said.
His father was proud of his sons’ efforts to open the upscale restaurant, and he would sit in a chair near the bar daily during lunch time.
From there, Mr. Kamilaris greeted customers, including many of Toledo’s leading politicians and professionals, cleaned fresh green beans, and enjoyed being at the business.
“He would always be sitting here telling people what to do,” remembered his granddaughter Sarah Kamilaris. “He’d always be telling people to fill up the water glasses.”
When he wasn’t at the restaurant, he relaxed by watching Greek television programs broadcast by satellite, smoking a couple of cigarettes and sipping his signature drink — a Canadian Club with two ice cubes.
“You always had to greet him and say hello in Greek and good-bye in Greek,” Ms. Kamilaris said.
Andreas Kamilaris’ son Christos said his father cared for people and wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of. After the stroke, when he couldn’t talk, he would point to diners’ tables to indicate a water glass or coffee cup needed to be filled, his family said.
He taught his children to “always respect the family” and stressed the importance of education since he had been unable to continue school. When his children were young, he made sure the family vacationed together regularly.
He kept current on news from around the world.
Before he married, he sang Greek folk songs in his deep voice, along with friends at weddings.
“His values were … never to steal from anybody, to always do the right thing,” his son George said.
Surviving are his wife, Maroulla; sons, George and Christos; daughter, Athena; sister, Eve Kokkinou; brother, Sotris, and six grandchildren.
Visiting are to be 4 to 8 p.m. today at the Foth–Dorfmeyer Mortuary, 3815 Sylvania Ave. A Trisagion prayer service is scheduled at 7 p.m.
The funeral is to be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, where Mr. Kamilaris was a member.
The family suggests tributes to the church.
Contact Vanessa McCray at: email@example.com or 419-724-6065.