The National Herald - December 12, 2009

Ex-Archbishop Spyridon At Condakes Rite

   By Theodore Kalmoukos

BOSTON - Prominent Greek American businessman and philanthropist Leo Condakes was laid to rest on Tuesday, December 8. His funeral was held at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation of Boston. Former Archbishop Spyridon of America officiated at the Funeral Service. It was the first time that the former prelate of the Greek-Orthodox Church in America presided over a Sacred Service since he resigned from the Throne of the Archbishop ten years ago under difficult circumstances.

Speaking of Leo Condakes, who was very dear to him, Archbishop Spyridon said, “Leo was really a prominent and great man, who gave to the Church and to good deeds. He had a good and pure heart and he is really going to be missed because there are just a few like him.” He also said that, “The Church is losing one of its most faithful children…My prayer is that there will be more people like Leo in the immediate and distant future.”

Archbishop Spyridon consoles Eve Condakes during the funeral service for her late husband, philanthropist Leo Condakes.
Annunciation Cathedral Dean V. Rev. Cleopas Strongylis is seen far right.

Archbishop Spyridon had a very close and friendly relationship with the Condakes family for many years. Eve Condakes was one of the most able and successful presidents of the National Philoptochos of the Archdiocese. She served under the archpastoral tenure of Archbishop Spyridon and she has continued under Archbishop Demetrios.

Archbishop Spyridon, in his eulogy, spoke about the mystery of death, quoting from St. John the Evangelist that, “The hour is coming and now is” and he comforted the faithful by saying: “But do not despair like those who have no hope.” He said that: “Leo did good, a lot of good. His faith was pure, his respect for the traditions, authentic.” He added that, “He offered his services to the Church as a member of the Archdiocesan Council, a member of the Board of Trustees of Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology” and he emphasized that “his directness was exemplary.” Archbishop Spyridon completed his eulogy by saying: “Leo did good and those who do good will pass from death into life.”

Mr. George Behrakis told the Herald that “Leo was a very dynamic individual, opinioned to the point; he was a very strong individual and very hard-working. In that type of business he had to get up at 2 o’clock in the morning to service the produce for the supermarkets and the restaurants.” He also added, “The whole family is a very philanthropic family.”

At the funeral service, in addition to the presiding priest of the Cathedral, Archimandrite Cleopas Stroggylis, Frs. Emmanuel Metaxas, Nicholas Triantafilou, Theodore Barbas, George Dragas, Costas Sitaras, Constantine Combitsis and Demetrios Tonias also participated.

Fr. Barbas, chancellor of the Metropolis of Boston, read letters of condolences from Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Demetrios. Mr. Condakes was buried at the Mount Auburn Cemetery and the memorial meal took place at the Church of the Taxiarchae community center of Watertown.

Leo Peter Condakes was born on June 3, 1924  and he passed away Friday morning, December 4, surrounded by his wife, Evanthea, and his beloved family at the age of 85.

Born and bred in Boston, Massachusetts, Leo Condakes has never strayed far from his home and his church.  The scion of an old Boston Greek American family, whose patriarch founded Peter Condakes Company, Leo and his brothers, George, John, and James, parlayed their passion for work and their creativity into transforming their father’s small family produce business in Boston into a New England giant.

Archbishop Spyridon, formerly of America, presided over the funeral for Leo Condakes at the Annunciation Cathedral, Boston. Cathedral Dean V. Rev. Cleopas Strongylis is next to the Archbishop.

Leo was educated in the Boston public school system, and later took classes at Wentworth Institute, before being drafted into the U.S. Army.  Leo's tour of duty in the army extended through the Korean War.  Upon his release, Leo carried forward his commitment to citizenship and service, developed in the army, to his life in the church and community-at-large.

Upon his discharge from military service, he rejoined his father and brothers at Peter Condakes Company. United again, the company grew to be the largest produce wholesaler in New England, along the way notching a few "firsts” for its industry.  For instance, the family business was the first produce wholesaler to import products from the rest of the nation and the world.

Companion to Leo’s prodigious work effort was his faith.  A lifelong member of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Boston, Leo served on its board of trustees. He also helped expand the church's reach in the Boston area, becoming an active member of five other area Greek Orthodox churches, thus solidifying his reputation as one of the church’s best known philanthropists.  In recognition of his service to the church, Leo became one of the first members of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100, and was a major benefactor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. He also served on the Archdiocesan Council and on the Executive Board of Trustees for Hellenic College-Holy Cross, of Brookline. He was granted the title of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

In 2003, ever the proud Hellenic American, Leo received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, presented by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO).  The awards are presented annually in Ellis Island’s Great Hall – in a tribute to the ancestry groups that comprise America’s unique and dynamic cultural mix - to American citizens of diverse origins for their outstanding contributions to their communities, their nation and the world.

As patrons of the arts, he and his wife were major benefactors of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and funded the establishment of its Gallery of East Greek Art, which bears their names.

Leo is survived by his wife, Evanthea (Collatos), six children and their spouses, two sisters and 12 grandchildren.
Former Archbishop Spyridon, who officiated at the funeral, was warmly received by Mrs. Eve Condakes, the children and grandchildren of Leo, and also by the many Greek Orthodox who had gathered at the Cathedral in order to pay their respects to Mr. Condakes. Many prominent Greek Americans such as George Behrakis and George Safiol went into the Holy Altar and they warmly greeted Archbishop Spyridon. Mr Behrakis told The National Herald, “It is always good to see Archbishop Spyridon. I have been an admirer of his. I think he is a good man; it just happened that he was in a bad position and unfortunately these things happen.”

Mr. Behrakis was referring to Archbishop Spyridon’s resignation in August of 1999 after three years of archpastoral ministry.

Speaking exclusively to The National Herald, Archbishop Spyridon, projected professed love and forgiveness for all, saying that, “I do not think it is to the benefit of a man to hold sentiments of hatred or other feelings, which are not pure love for his fellow men,” and he added, “We must love all, those who love us, and those who do not.”

Asked how he felt about being back in the U.S. and whether he missed the Greek American community, he said, “It is like I never left; it seems like I never departed. I see beloved persons and I am happy to see them advancing and progressing.”

When it was pointed out to him that he loves America, Archbishop Spyridon said, “Of course, I was born here, I went to school here; this is my country, but Greece is my motherland. He added, “I miss my good friends, but from time to time I come and visit them.”

[ Orthodox Truth |  -  Dec. 12, 2009 ]
[ The National Herald - December 12-18, 2009 - Vol. 13, Issue 635 - pp. 1+8  |
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