By Catherine Tsounis
A giant among men sat on the rocks of Breakwater jetty in Mattituck, fishing from 1980. Always with a smile, he was a leader in community projects at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, flushing, New York. The Greek immigrant from Thessaloniki, Macedonia, inspired family, friends and community to promote the Greek Orthodox religion, language and culture. Parashos “Pari” Preponis passed away in early December, 2016. He was 67 years old. He is survived by his wife, Kiki, sons Kosta, Niko and Evan, daughter-in-law’s Barbara, Christina and grandchildren.
Pari was a fixture with his network of family and friends at the Stephen and Areti Cherpelis Greek afternoon School. The Loukoumades stand at the annual Columbus Weekend Festival of St. Nicholas Church was where you would find him. They all worked long hours to raise money. This was probably one of the major money makers because of low overhead costs. “Pari was my friend,” said Dikaiophylax Archon Mr. Stephen Cherpelis. “He helped me in my projects to advance the Greek Orthodox faith and Greek language in America. His enthusiasm to support the Stephen and Areti Greek afternoon school contributed to our success as an education institution.”
I knew Pari from his fishing days in Mattituck, L.I. He used to say “no one can swim long distances like Cathy.” He only knew how to say the right thing to make persons feel good about themselves. Kosta Koutsoubis, of NYPT Physical Therapy in flushing, recalled how he “accidentally lightly scratched his car bumper. Pari said, ‘don’t worry about it, pethi mou (my child).” He was a mentor to our youth. Presvitera Maria Diakovasilis recalls “the love and loyalty Pari had for the late Rev. Anastasios Diakovasilis, who he worked with for many years.”
Hi community leadership was evident as the PTA president of the Stephen and Areti Greek Afternoon School in 1993. His leadership honored Rev. George Passias, Principal Athena Kromidas and educator Maria Makris at their February 1993 dance. During the ceremonies, eight scholarships were given toHigh School graduates. The successful dance was attended by over 400 persons in the William Spyropoulos School hall, when all catering was donated by parents. PTA President Preponis inspired Dance Chairpersons, Harry Kalogiannis and Georgia Karakatsani, PTA Board and Parents to create this memorable event.
Mr. Parashos “Pari” Preponis’ legacy is chronicled in Through My Eyes: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Flushing, New York”. 1 Pari was part of the “Golden Age” of Hellenism in Queens, New York. In 1995, Pari, as dance chairperson, hosted a 350+ person dance when parent/artist Matina Botoulas was honored for her contribution to Greek education 2
Pari and Kiki, his loyal wife, welcomes New York senator Frank Padavan with their friends Kosta and Alexandra Roumbos at the 2006 St. Nicholas church Festival. They thanked Senator Padavan for securing a $5,000 grant for the Senior Citizen Center.3 He believed learning Greek while learning English will improved students’ vocabulary. He helped organize 25 parents from Benjamin Cardozo H.S. to attend a historic meeting at the NYC Board of Education meeting at P.S. 52, in Staten Island on May 18th, 1994. They aimed at the creation of an Advance Modern Greek course at Benjamin Cardozo H.S. funded by tax levy money. It was offered in September 1994 with the assistance of Benjamin Cardozo H.S. Foreign Language Assistant Principal Robert Goodman.4
Over a zeibekiko musical program at a prior festival, he recalled his “grandparents who had black hair, grey blue eyes and white complexion from the Ionian tribe of Greeks. They were from the original town of Byzantio, having land on the Dardanelles straits. The town is now called Permetgik in the Dardanglia state.” We will never see another person such as Parashos “Pari” Preponis. A descendant of the Byzantine Ionian Greeks who contributed to the growth of the Ottoman Empire till their expulsion in 1922, his family contributed to the rise of Macedonia, Greece and the Greek-American community of New York City. He was a man of his times. We will never see another person like him.
- Tsounis, Catherine, “Through My Eyes: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing, New York 1987-2014”. New York: Tsounis Publications, 2015. Print, pp. 31-32.
- Tsounis, Catherine,“20th Annual St. Nicholas Greek School Dance A Huge Success”. Hellenic Times March 10, 1995:5. Print.
- Tsounis, Catherine,“Through My Eyes: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing, New York 1987-2014”,122-123.
- Tsounis, Catherine,“Through My Eyes: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing, New York 1987-2014”,51.