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Veteran's geniality charmed family, customers

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By Jerry Vondas
Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Whether he was fighting in North Africa as a member of Gen. Bernard Montgomery's Allied Army during World War II, delivering baked goods while raising his family or driving a school bus in his later years, Tony Xenakis had a zest for life.

“My father was upbeat and positive,” said daughter Ergetti Faatuiese of Dormont. “He believed in working hard and living according to the tenets of his Greek Orthodox faith.”

Anthony Emanuel Xenakis of Brookline died Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, in Life-Care Monroeville. His 88th birthday was last week.

Born in Pittsburgh and raised in Kountouma, Greece, he was one of five children of Emanuel and Katherine Xenakis, who operated coffee shops in the South Side and in Greece.

After his discharge from the military in 1945, Mr. Xenakis was employed in New York City until he met and married Despina Gemelos, a young woman from Brookline. They were married for 62 years.

Daughter-in-law Colleen Xenakis of Dormont recalled the big smile and the happy embrace she received when she became a member of the family.

“He was kind and loving and always ready to lend a helping hand,” she said.

Mr. Xenakis bought baked goods and delivered them to retail customers throughout the city, building trust among his customers.

“He'd walk into a restaurant, and with a big smile he'd let the customers know that he was there and had the best in baked goods,” Faatuiese said. “Dad delivered for six days and did truck repairs on the seventh.”

Upon his retirement from the baked goods business, he opted to drive a school bus for Pittsburgh Public Schools.

“The kids enjoyed his geniality on their way to and back to school,” his daughter said.

“And the parents were pleased of his concern for their youngsters. Dad loved children and was as concerned about them as he was for his 12 grandchildren.”

Mr. Xenakis was a member of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Mt. Lebanon.

“He'd often say to us to never be afraid, God will always be with you,” his daughter said.

Mr. Xenakis never forgot what he fought for during World War II and was an active member of the American Legion. He also was involved with AHEPA, a Greek-American fraternal order geared toward improving the lives of the elderly and providing scholarships for the younger generation.

In addition to his wife and daughter, survivors include another daughter, Kathy Mantagos of Greece; three sons, Emanuel Xenakis of Shaler, Alex Xenakis of Houston and Theodore Xenakis of Dormont; and 12 grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Monday in Beinhauer's, 2630 West Liberty Ave., Dormont.

Funeral Liturgy will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, 123 Gilkeson Road, Mt. Lebanon. Interment will be in Jefferson Memorial Park, Pleasant Hills.

Jerry Vondas is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7823 or jvondas@tribweb.com.

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