JohnChakalosFrom The Keene Sentinel, December 28, 2013

John Chakalos, 87, of Chesterfield, beloved husband of the late Rita B. Chakalos, passed away unexpectedly at his home in Windsor, Conn., on Dec. 20, 2013.

Mr. Chakalos was born June 29, 1926, in Keene, the only son in a family of five daughters, to the late Charles “Costas” and Kalliope (Kyriazis) Chakalos. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private, where he served with distinction as a paratrooper in the Philippines during WWII and participated in numerous high-risk missions. He was a graduate of the Bradford Durfee College of Technology, where he received a B.S. in textile engineering in 1951. During his high school years in Middletown, Conn., he met his sweetheart Rita Baranowski. The two were married for 59 years, until Rita Chakalos lost her battle with cancer on Nov. 21, 2013.

Mr. Chakalos dedicated his life to his marriage, work and community, and above all, family. His favorite motto was, “Without family you’ve got nothing; family is everything.” He showered his grandchildren, nieces and nephews with paternal love. He was a proud, hard-working man, and with his determination and work ethic he built a beautiful life for his family. A self-made man, he proudly worked full-time as a real estate developer until the day of his passing. He never slowed down, always exhibiting a larger-than-life personality. Behind a strong willed business demeanor, however, lay a heart of gold. He and his wife felt an obligation to give to those who were less fortunate, especially the children and the town of Chesterfield, where he resided for the past 20 years. Despite his personal and professional successes, Mr. Chakalos carried a special humility and compassion, always reaching out to those in need — often anonymously. He was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church and extended his generosity to the church throughout his life.

Mr. Chakalos will be remembered by thousands for his acts of kindness and generosity. Every Christmas for the last decade Mr. and Mrs. Chakalos opened their home in New Hampshire to the public to view his extraordinary display of lights. Christmas was Mr. Chakalos’ favorite holiday, as he loved spending time with his family and wanted to extend that joy to others. Donations made at the entrance went to the local food pantry.

His life is a living testament to the American Dream: through hard work, family values and a lifelong marriage, he achieved what we all aspire to become. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten.

Survivors include his daughters, Elaine J. Chakalos of West Hartford, Conn., Linda Carman of Middletown, Conn., Charlene Gallagher of Hampstead, N.C., Valerie Santilli and her husband, Lawrence, of West Hartford, Conn.; his grandchildren, Haley and Colin Massie, Nathan Carman, Nash and Colton Gallagher, Zoe and Christian Santilli; his step-grandchildren, “Little” Larry Santilli and Krista Santilli; his sister, Vivian Nikkanen and her husband, Pentti; his brother-in-law, Greg Contas; his sister-in-law, Dorothy Oszurek; as well as many beloved nieces, nephews and friends.

In addition to Mr. Chakalos’ wife and parents, his sisters, Helen Chakalos, Vasiliki “Kiki” LaPenna, Julia Burkhart and Georgia Contas, and his brother-in-law, Nicholas LaPenna, died earlier.

Family and friends may gather Monday, Dec. 30, at 10 a.m. at the Carmon Windsor Funeral Home, 807 Bloomfield Ave., in Windsor, Conn., followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Hartford, Conn. Interment will follow in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford. Mr. Chakalos’ family will receive friends on Sunday, Dec. 29, from 5-8 p.m. at the funeral home. A Trisagion (Τρισάγιον) Service will be held at 6 p.m.

Donations in his memory may be made to the John and Rita B. Chakalos Fund for the Children of Chesterfield, c/o Paul Sterczala, 4 Corporate Drive, Suite 488, Shelton, Conn. 06484.

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