The Passing of the Dean of the Greek-American Community and the Greek Diaspora
Andrew Athens – and a picture of him serving the US Army in World War II – in October, 2011 when he was honored in Washington DC, along with Senator Bob Dole, with the Greatest Generation Award.
WASHINGTON, DC., March 14, 2013 — Andrew A. Athens passed away in his sleep early this morning 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 years, 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 Andy found his intelligence, sincerity, charm and dedication to his family, his heritage and his country unsurpassed. Without exaggeration, Andy Athens’ accomplishments for Hellenism and Orthodoxy 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). As well, he is well-known for his singlehandedly creating health clinics in the Hellenic areas of the Republics of 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.
Andrew Athens and his wife of 67 years, Louise Athens, at his 90th birthday party in Chicago in November, 2011
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 Andy’s 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 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 further Orthodoxy and Hellenism; and he twice chaired the Clergy-Laity Congress, a gathering of the priests and lay leaders from the 545 Greek Orthodox Churches across America, to name just three of his major accomplishments in this field.
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.
Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced when finalized.