Sturaitis, Gus Constantinos, Kostas (Stouraitis)

Sturaitis, Gus Constantinos, Kostas (Stouraitis)

April 19th, 2018

Gus immigrated from Aegina, Greece, in 1952, landing in Halifax at age 27 on the Greek liner ‘Nea Ellas’ (New Greece) following a 12-day voyage and 2-days by train to London, ON to visit his sister Urania, whom he hadn’t seen since the start of WWII. He became a Canadian citizen, worked hard, married, raised a family, voted in every election, paid every bill on time, volunteered and visited the sick, the elderly, supported charities, helped the less fortunate - both those far away and some personally unknown - as well as relatives in the old country and people in the community who looked to him for help. Together with his late wife ‘Eva’ Evagelia (née Housou) they devoted their lives to their children: Arch Angelus and Dr. Mary (Maria) Sturaitis, who survive and miss him. Supporter of the Greek Community of Holy Trinity Church ‘Agia Triada’, local Greek school, Mount Hope, member of AHEPA  philanthropic fraternity, Amalgamated Transit Union, and worked for London Transportation Commission L.T.C. (now London Transit) for 32 years (retired 1988). At 17, he survived being buried alive under 100-meters of rubble for 3 days (Aug. 4-7, 1942) pinned under boulders, shoring, in an underground well/water reservoir that had collapsed on his father’s farm. Pitch black darkness, water rising, his legs entangled in metal debris, rocks pressing around him, unable to move, not knowing if other workers were dead or injured, he held on. By the time he was rescued, thousands had gathered to help, pray, and be witness to the spectacle. The well contractor (John Thanasakis) was buried below him. They were both rescued and survived with little injury and it was reported as a miracle in national newspapers. It was the full efforts of the entire village, heavy equipment from the German garrison that occupied the island during the war years, prayers of many believers and nuns from the national pilgrimage site and shrine to Saint Nectarios nearby, the labour of local convicts, who were promised their freedom and set free after the rescue. At 15, he was conscripted to run the daily mule-train up the island’s mountainside, supplying Greek army battery fortification against the Italian invasion of 1940. He served in the Greek Navy during perilous times (Oct. 10, 1947-Apr. 1949) on the ship ‘Yfestos’. Navy occupation: machinist in ship’s workshop; duty as navy police officer for ship and shore. His ship evacuated refugees, patrolled for mines in midst of roiling hostilities of civil war-communists, former WWII partisans, royalists and desperate people displaced by the conflict. At L.T.C. he did everything from general operations maintenance, to working in the garage assisting as apprentice mechanic, and pick-up/transfer broken-down buses on the road. When first hired, he was part of the team that was flown to a bus factory in Kapuskasing, Northern Ontario, April 1959 to pick up and drive back to London (in convoy fashion - four days/nights) newly minted buses. It was during this time that he had a chance to see and experience Canada’s vast northern hinterland of forest and lakes. When Gus first arrived in Canada, he immediately reported to his sponsors, the nuns of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Marian Villa Retirement Home (now Mount Hope) - built the previous year. Under auspices of Sister Leonora Doyle his mentor/sponsor, worked as an orderly, transporting patients and delivering meals and doing a variety of maintenance work. Remarkably, in a ‘circle-of-life’ way, both Gus and his wife Eva would pass their final time there. Predeceased by his wife Eva (2009), lovingly married for 54 years. He attended to her daily, more than a 10-year ordeal with Parkinson’s, at home and at Mount Hope. He continued to volunteer there for years every Sunday. He worked for prominent London businessman/hotelier/horse-breeder/harness-racer/farmer Alex Parsons and his wife Rita Parsons through the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. At Parsons’ hotels across SW ON, (Chatham; London (The Belvedere, Royal Alex); Brantford (Kerby House); St. Thomas) he did maintenance, repairs, bar and kitchen. He worked on Parsons’ farm, entrusted to various responsibilities at the homestead, including driving Mr. Parsons around in his Cadillacs, chauffeuring visiting dignitaries at the residence such as Governor-General Vanier, who especially asked for him and shared meals and company whenever he visited. Gus did all the jobs that needed doing...from farmer, herder, longshoreman, navy service, military policeman, merchant marine, crane operator, candy factory machinery repair, hospital orderly, hotel worker, waiter, tap-man, painter, forklift driver, chauffeur, and 32 years with London Transit. Also the important jobs: being a great husband, father, uncle, friend, community volunteer, ever dutiful son to his parents and supporting sibling to nine brothers and sisters, many predeceased. Also, loving father-in-law to Arch’s wife Laura and her family. He enjoyed hunting with his L.T.C. friends, tinkering, travelling with family, being handy, dependable, hard-working, fun, time for friends, always ready to offer anyone a helping hand or some fresh Portuguese buns, a big smile and roses from his garden. Also survived by nephew Nestor Karastathis (Helen), son Dimitrios (Devon) and children; his sister Kaliopi Asimopolous in Greece and the many generations of nieces, nephews from all sides of the family there, including Phylio Stouraitis and her family. Gus was born in 1925. He died Thursday at 93 years. Visitation will be held on Wednesday from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at WESTVIEW FUNERAL CHAPEL, 709 Wonderland Road North, London, with prayers at 8:00 p.m. followed immediately by family memories. The funeral service will be conducted on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at HOLY TRINITY GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH, 131 Southdale Road West, London, officiated by Rev. Father Demetre Mouselimis. Interment at Woodland Cemetery. Those wishing to make a donation in memory of Gus are asked to consider any charity of their choice through the London Community Foundation/Sturaitis Fund (519) 667-1600.

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Book of Condolences

Peter AnasArchie and Maria - your father was a kind person and koubaro to the Anas family. We remember him fondly. He visited our mother Helen during her years of struggling health and kept her in good spirits. May his memory be eternal.
George SkrettasPlease accept my sympathy upon the passing of Barba Kosta. I remember him and his wife sitting in the pews at church in the front right side from the time I was an altar boy 35 years ago at the old church on Richmond. He always had a smile on his face and when I became a a father asked me to mail him photos to his house on Rectory St. if I remember correctly. The last time I saw him was when he was tending to his wife's grave at the cemetary. He smiled when he saw me and commented on how big my children were in the last photo I had sent him. A real nice man he was and a true gentleman.
John, Paul and Soula KostasMy parents fondly remember Koumbaro Kosta and his wife Eva as very good friends. They were honoured to be their Best-man and Godparents to Archie. Even when my parents left London many years ago, Koumbaro Kosta made it a point to regularly stay in touch. We remember him as a devoted husband who never left his wife’s side during her long battle with Alzheimer’s. We extend our deepest sympathies. May his memory be eternal.
Jim & Ann AnasDear Maria and Archie Your father, Kostas, was a kind and generous man. He was a good koubaro to our parents, Sam and Helen, and our families as was your mother. We are sure that you are justly proud of him. He will be with koubara Eva in heaven. May his memory be eternal! Jim and Ann Anas
RICHARD J ROPP, MDMy condolences to Mary, a devout daughter and confidant. Many a day I would listen as Mary would speak with someone on the care of her father even though she could not be present to comfort him. God bless our loved ones.
Nestor and Helen KarastathisWe will have fond memories of Theo Kosta's loyalty, kindness and generosity to us. May his memory be eternal.
Dimitios and Devon KarastathisTheo Kosta was one of the happiest people I ever met. He was always full of life and willing to stop everything he was doing in order to help those around him. I will never forget his amazing devotion to his late wife and family. His memory will stay within our hearts forever.
George Allan TuckerOn behalf of my family we wish to pay our respects to Gus and to offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends. We have never met Gus and yet having read the wonderful tribute to Gus we were moved to reach out. There was one part of the story of his life that struck a chord with myself. As a boy of 10, my family moved to a new house at 387 Clarke Side Road almost across the street from the Parson's Farm on Dundas Street. I can still remember venturing over to the farm to admire the race horses. I can remember the Cadillacs as well. Who knows , I might have even met Gus back in those days. I was a very curious youngster. Sometimes my friends and I would get too close to the barns and were asked to get on home for our own safety. The other connections I have had with London's Greek community has been my many visits to the Mykonos Restaurant on Adelaide St. N. and our gracious host Heidi and through my early years in the Scouting movement. Jim Strathopolis was one of Scoutmasters when I attended St Barnabas Church on Dundas Street. If my memory serves me correctly, Jim's family had a store in downtown London just near the corner of Dundas St. on Richmond? We send our Love and our Thanks for sharing to all.
Bryan Gloyd and Clark Bryan - Aeolian HallWhen Clark bought the Aeolian Hall in 2004 the location was 'new territory' for him. He don't know the area, the people or the challenges of Old East at that time. One the first people he met was Gus, who quickly became the Aeolian's 'neighbor'. Gus was often outside and when Clark and Bryan were working around the Hall in those early days, and we be over visiting with us. We seemed like a community of 3 - and he was our watchman. Gus seemed to know what was going on in the area and always had a smile and a story to share. Although we've seen him less recently we will miss Gus. He was a fixture in the community, as much as many of the buildings are. We always felt comfortable that Gus was watching the place while we were away. He was a quite amazing man. He leaves the kind of positive memories we all hope that we can leave. Our sympathies to his family. We wish you peace, wonderful memories and strength for the time ahead.
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