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Andrew A. Athens in Memoriam
Andrew A. Athens passed away in his sleep at his home in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 91. In addition to his extraordinary success as a major steel industry magnate of the mid-western United States, as Chairman of Metron Steel, and as the cherished head of a close and loving family – made up of his wife of 67 Louise, son Paul (and his wife Kellee) and daughter Jacqueline (and her husband Alex) and their four grandchildren (Andrew (and wife Lanci), Alexa, James Paul, and Matthew) – Andy epitomized what is best about Hellenism and Orthodoxy. Virtually all who knew him found his intelligence, sincerity, charm and dedication to his family, his heritage and his country unsurpassed. Without exaggeration, Andy Athens’ accomplishments for the American Hellenism are incomparable.
He was widely seen as the unquestionable leader of the millions of Greeks living outside of Greece. This stemmed mostly from his being the first and longest tenured President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE). During his service there, his passion and commitment were devoted to the medical and humanitarian relief organization hellenicare, which he founded to assist “the forgotten Hellenes” upon witnessing their plight and that of their neighbors during his trips to the Former Soviet Republics and Eastern Europe, creating health clinics in Albania, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine. Medical experts estimate that these clinics saved the lives of many thousands of patients, who would otherwise have had no high quality medical treatment.
“Because of his charm and his ability, he was able to do good things in our community, in the public policy area and then with World Council of Hellenes (SAE)”, said Andy Manatos, President of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes, who had worked with Andy Athens numerous times in promoting Hellenic issues. “He just brought this magical, unsurpassed thing to our community. He was just amazing.”
Following the request of the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Iakovos, Andy Athens undertook the daunting task of channeling our Greek-American national community’s strength toward America’s leading foreign policymakers. In this regard, Andy worked closely with other Hellenes including George P. Livanos, George Paraskevaides, Angelo Tsakopoulos, Philip Christopher, Andy Manatos, Nikos Mouyiaris, Peter Papanicolaou and many others in the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes. Subsequently, virtually every US President and leader in the US Senate and House of Representatives came to cherish Andy and value his council on Hellenic and Orthodox matters. The countries of Greece and Cyprus and the Ecumenical Patriarchate all materially benefited from the improved American policy that resulted from his efforts.
Andy Athens left his indelible mark as well on the Greek Orthodox Church. For over a decade, Andy was the lay head of the Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. He was a founder of the Orthodox Christian Charities, a multi-million dollar NGO that distributes goods to the needy worldwide; a founder of Leadership 100, the 88 million dollar foundation created to support the Archdiocese; and he twice chaired the Clergy-Laity Congress, a gathering of priests and lay leaders from the 545 Greek Orthodox Churches across America, to name just three of his major accomplishments in this field.
According to Charles H. Cotros, Leadership 100 Chairman, “Andy Athens was truly one of the most prominent leaders in the ‘Greatest Generation’ of our Church, our Community and our Nation. He exemplified the Hellenic Spirit in his full life of service and his dedication to others that knew no borders. His outlook was ecumenical and international and we all deeply mourn his passing yet remained filled with gratitude for all his contributions and achievements.”
Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1921, Andy spent his early years there. He left college, against his father’s wishes, to defend America and the free world against Hitler’s Axis Forces. Andy explained that he was simply following his father’s example, a man who left the safety of America to return to Greece to fight in the Balkan wars where he was wounded. Following Andy’s fighting in North Africa and while leading troops to a rendezvous in Belgium, Andy asked for directions at the home of a lovely Belgium girl named Louise. This young army-boxing champion returned on his motorcycle the next day, began dating Louise and was married within that year. They were happily married for 67 years.