Pantelis Thomas Kotsiopoulos, beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend, passed away on October 28, 2018 in New Port Richey, Florida. He lived 85 magnificent years filled with enthusiasm, honor, laughter, and love.
He is survived by his beloved wife Marina Mavidis Kotsiopoulos; his children Belinda Thomas Kotsiopoulos, Deanne Thomas (Andrew Feldman), Jennifer Thomas Schuler (Fred), Paul Thomas Kotsiopoulos (Lindsey Damic, fiancée); his stepchildren Eirini Tsoulfa MD, Dimitrios Antoniadis; his grandchildren Henry Schuler, John Schuler, Nick Schuler, Sophia Kotsiopoulos, George Tsoulfa Stathakis; and former spouse Bonnie Thomas Schuessler.
Pantelis was born on February 5, 1933 in Chicago to father Thomas Kotsiopoulos and mother Ann Diakikis Kotsiopoulos, first-generation Greek Immigrants from Tripoli (Thomas) and Crete (Ann). Legend has it that Thomas made it to America as a stowaway on a steamship’s lifeboat; it is certain his son Pantelis never forgot his proud Greek heritage, or his deep joy and gratitude to be alive.
Pantelis was Tom and Ann’s third child, following brother George and sister Kiki, now deceased. The three children remained close through life, and gave all around them an iron-bound sense of the importance of family.
Pantelis has been known to many throughout his life as “Leon” and “Babe,” and it’s a story worth telling. His birthname was John Thomas Kotsiopoulos. When he was a baby he nearly died of pneumonia and for days his family prayed to St. Panteleimon. The young boy lived, and was known from then on as Pantelis. At school, children had trouble with the name and it was simplified to “Leon.” But for many of his closest family and friends, he was always known as “Babe” because he was the “baby” of the family he loved so much.
The family grew up on Granville on the Northwest side, and Pantelis attended St. George’s High school. Father Tom worked hard, and eventually opened two neighborhood restaurant standbys, Kofield’s. After school, Pantelis would bag and deliver groceries, something that gave him a lifelong love of cooking and food. He shared his passion freely, and with Pantelis even the simplest of meals was a reason for celebration and thanksgiving.
Pantelis left home in 1951 to attend college at Chicago’s Loyola University, where he studied until transferring to Florida Southern College in Lakeland. It was a fortunate move, because there he met Bonnie Maier, also from Chicago. Pantelis worked his way through college, eventually saving enough to buy a sunfish sailboat and his pride and joy, a 1932 Ford Convertible with white leather seats. Pantelis graduated from FSC in 1955, and the young couple moved to Chicago and married in 1956.
After college Pantelis worked in the family restaurant business, and sold lawn furniture on the weekends, but quickly sought to strike out on his own, much like his father before him. He decided to build a career in real estate and signed up with the venerable Chicago firm Baird Warner. Pantelis was a natural, and soon joined his father-in-law George Maier in real estate to learn the ropes of running a family business. Ever eager to make his own way, Pantelis founded his own firm Chicago Future Inc. in 1958, the company that bears his legacy today. To keep up with his entrepreneurial American dream and for the ease of recognition for his new company, he thought it best to change his and all of his children’s last name to Thomas, which he was known as until his divorce in 1978, when he returned to his birth name Pantelis Thomas Kotsiopoulos.
In real estate, Pantelis enjoyed an accomplished career of firsts: he was an early developer of condominium conversion projects, including the highly successful Park Castle; a pioneer in the use of the standardized commercial real estate contract; President of the North Side Real Estate Board; a mentor to many in the industry; and a major influence on several neighborhoods including Chicago’s Northwest side and his noteworthy founding and development of Chicago’s Streeterville Center. Pantelis studied and worked to gain his degree and become the Nation’s 771st C.C.I.M. Certified Commercial Investment Manager. He was constantly seeking ways to innovate or improve … those around him knew that his career was a lifelong pursuit of providing excellence in service, coupled with honesty and diligence and integrity, and above all hard work.
Pantelis raised his family in Wilmette on the North Shore so his children could attend New Trier East high school and live their lives along the lake front, beaches and harbor. He took his young family camping many weekends during summer months, pulling the Golden Buffalo trailer to Wisconsin and Michigan, throughout the east and west coasts, and skiing in Snowmass, Colorado. Sailboat racing in the Wilmette harbor became his lifetime passion.
Pantelis shared his time with his family in both of his homes in his native Chicago’s Gold Coast, and for the last 16 years his love of the water led him to his home in New Port Richey Florida. At his homes the doors were always open for family and friends from around the world where he shared his love of fishing, cooking, his precious mango tree, and fig and lemon trees and gardens.
Pantelis was enthusiastic about life in general and had many interests outside of real estate. He loved sailing and kept a slip in Wilmette Harbor for over 50 years. He loved the simple, active, outdoor pleasures: fishing, swimming, and brisk Chicago lakefront walks … summer and winter. He loved the Opera and spent years as a supernumerary in the Lyric Opera, enjoying friendships with Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo while performing.
He was a devoted, dedicated friend to many. He was known to all for his compassion, loyalty, generosity, and infectious optimism. He was the quintessential “glass half full” man, and you couldn’t help feeling grateful and blessed after spending time with him.
Above all, Pantelis loved his family, who take solace in knowing that his legacy will be passed on in his children and grandchildren. He will be deeply missed by all.
Sunday, November 11th, 2018 at 10:30am, at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 1017 N. Lasalle St., Chicago IL 60610, Liturgy and Memorial Services to honor Pantelis will be held. During the final one-half hour of services, it is anticipated that Pantelis’ life will be honored beginning approximately at 11:00am.
In addition, the following day Monday, November 12th at 10:30am there will be last prayers by Father Stomati and burial, open to all friends and family, held at Elmwood Cemetery Mausoleum Chapel, 2905 Thatcher Ave., River Grove, IL.
Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy are asked to consider a donation in Pantelis’ memory to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral https://annunciationcathedralchicago.org/.
View Original Notice → Pantelis Thomas Kotsiopoulos